‘Friedrich Nietzsche in ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ holds that only a few people have the fortitude to look in times of distress into what he calls the molten pit of human reality. Most, studiously, ignore the pit. Artists and philosophers, for Nietzsche, are consumed however by an insatiable curiosity, a quest for truth and a desire for meaning. They venture down into the bowels of the molten pit. They get as close as they can before the flames and heat drive them back. This intellectual and moral honesty, Nietzsche wrote, comes with a cost. Those singed by the fire of reality become ‘burnt children’ he wrote, eternal orphans in empires of illusion’. Chris Hedges.
‘Addiction begins with the hope that something “out there” can instantly fill up the emptiness inside’. Jean Kilbourne.
‘All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for’. Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Yesterday I awoke with the world to the news of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Dying of a drug overdose in this, Australia’s month of ‘Feb Fast’, where we abstain from a habit we rely on in order to raise money for youth addiction; and thinking on the many creatives I have worked with, the creative I sometimes am, and those things we use to fill a hole we know not what, I can’t help but wonder on the nature of addiction today.
Addiction has touched my life in many ways through many different people and sources. Time and time again however, in each differing circumstance, …whether the addiction is drugs or alcohol, work, exercise, social media, food or shopping, there is a constant thread. The quotes I have used above reveal something of this, that addicts use something outside of themselves to fill an emptiness they feel is ever present in their lives.
The irony in this, if you are to agree with what Jon Kabat-Zin suggests above, is that the very thing they are looking for is right there with them.
For creatives the irony can be even more frustrating as Nietzsche suggests, for delving into the questions that sometimes haunt us as humans, that can lead us to addiction, is the very thing that makes them a creative; the thing that I also personally believe makes them so beautiful, so enigmatic, so blinding in their talent, that they are often hard to look at let alone not to fall in love with.
If addiction is the use of something outside yourself to fill in something you feel is missing, and if we take that the ‘thing’ is within ourselves, the journey must then be to go in. To look at ourselves and our deepest wants and desires for our own life. Joseph Campbell in his theories surrounding the Heroes Journey calls this ‘venturing into the belly of the whale’, something he reveals all heroes must do in order to move forward with their journey. Recent examples in the film Star Wars and in the book The Never Ending Story show Luke Skywalker going into a cave and ‘unmasking’ Darth Vada, seeing only himself; and in the Never Ending story, the most difficult gateway Atreyu faces is simply a mirror. ‘Men run screaaaming’ states the adviser to Atreyu before he bravely steps forward.
What is it about ourselves that we are most frightened of then? That we run screaming to something else, something that takes us further away from our goals?
Sometimes I think it is the very prospect of empty space, time to think and time to allow for revelation that drives us to our drug of choice, so that we don’t even give those questions an opportunity to come up.
It is with this thought that only one action, one first step, becomes clear for me; and that is to remove the habit and allow for that empty space. How can I know what I’m frightened of if I don’t allow room for the questions and subsequent revelations to come?
Wonder. Meant …that addiction to a substance or habit takes us further away from the healthier addiction we could have…an addiction to how great our lives could be living and breathing our greatest inner desires and passions.
P.S if you are interested in Feb Fast please follow the link below.