Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: No Such Thing as Enough

Monday, February 03, 2014

No Such Thing as Enough

The loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has struck many as the tragedy it is. And I suppose I'm just one more voice in the chorus of "why?" But I can speak a bit to the experience of being in the throws of addiction. In fact, just the other day I was out with friends listening to music. I asked my husband to bring me a glass of water and he returned with a glass that was 3/4 full. I looked at him and said, "This is how I know you're not an alcoholic. You didn't fill it up to the top." And his response was typically non-alcoholic: "It seemed like enough." I turned to my friend and we both just laughed because there's no such thing as enough in our world. And that is the world of addiction--without recovery, that is. And even with it sometimes. Mr. Hoffman was a creative genius, which has been widely recognized. So I don't need to speak to that here. But I will speak to the pressures of creative genius on the alcoholic mind. You see, in the world of the alcoholic, we're either everything or nothing: "I may be a piece of shit but I'm all I think about." That low-self esteem combined with such grandiosity combined with true genius and unmitigated shame is the quixotic cocktail that shapes the life of an artist who's also an addict. And just because we stop, doesn't mean the thinking stops, which is often why we pick up again. Sometimes the pain becomes so great that we turn to the familiar, the "comfortably numb." And it is that search for oblivion that is the hallmark of all addictive behavior whether it's food, sex, drugs or the old familiar, alcohol. It's hard to imagine the life of such a man is now over, gone in an instant, a moment of darkness and despair, or simply a dull ache on its journey to numbness, the search for a way not to feel quite so much--feelings are the one thing that is more than enough. Sensitivity is at the root of creative genius but it's also a root cause of addiction. We are wired to respond more quickly and with more feeling than people who aren't addictive. And that wiring has its inherent gifts and its contingent curses. The only way out is to tie our sensitivity to service, our emotion to devotion, our darkness to a light that is inextinguishable. May we all find that light, live the light and be the light. May we become so bright that the shadows of addiction are consumed in the fire of love. And may we no longer try to fill that gaping hole within with anything other than the divine name of the One.


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