Friday, September 11, 2009

Four Hours: Habits, Addictions, and Idolatry

High! My name is Dan . . . I'm an addict. Well, I am--a Vicodin addict. If I take it, I walk; if I don't take it, I don't walk. As my friend Jon has sternly reminded me: If a doctor prescribes it, and I'm following the regimen, then I'm not an addict. Well, I'll bow to superior wisdom--or experience. But I know my personality, which tends toward addiction. The average medication seems to last about four hours. I guess, technically, I'm physically dependent on hydrocodone. That, and Inderal, which is a "beta blocker". It seems to hold down my blood pressure, but, more importantly, blocks most of my migraines. I was getting them on an almost daily basis. Doctors have told me this isn't really possible, but you can't argue with your head (or, at least, you shouldn't). Being an addict is an exercise in diminishing returns: you take more and more to less and less effect (I WANT MOORE--BUT THERE'S LESS OF ME!). In my substance-abusing days, lo these 27 years ago, I much preferred stimulants (CNSS, technically) such as methylesterbenzoylecgonine (cocaine, for you tabloid types) and methamphetamine. When you've been depressed for much of your life, you tend to avoid downers. I always enjoyed the taste a good dark ale, a good dry red wine, or a strong-but-smooth tequila, but alcohol, like sugar, gave me migraines. Pot made me vegetative (feel those roots going down). When I took good acid I couldn't see myself in the mirror, and I astrally projected . . . a little too close to the line. So . . . flying that plane, high on cocaine . . . And then, an increase in speed to make up for lost reality!

Habits might be described as repetitive reactions to unconscious emotional needs. I plain English, I always do something the same way, because at some level I need too. Then again, habits may just be like record grooves cut into reality. The end result: if you don't do something the same way, you feel uncomfortable (you remember what happens when you hit the needle while a record's playing?). They're said to take several weeks to establish, depending on the habitue' and the nature of the habit. They are very hard to break, as we know. I believe this is because we enter into them unconsciously, but it takes a conscious (and often protracted) effort to break or change them. Most habits are innocuous, not bothering anyone save ourselves (well, maybe our significant others; perhaps that's one reason people live alone). Some habits, however, are deadly, at one level or another. Sarcasm is a veiled anger which seeks to humiliate other people: a very destructive habit. Brawling (often fueled by alcohol addiction) is another destructive habit, at a physical level.

Idolatry is an addiction or habit carried to a spiritual level. It is my contention, backed up, I believe, in the Bible, that humans are tripartite beings: we have spirit-bodies, which are imperishable (except by God, of course); we have physical bodies, which act as hosts or carriers for our spirits; and we have mental-emotional (mind+heart) bodies, or souls, which are the interface of the other two. In other words, our "operating systems". This is, I believe, what is seen by some people as "auras" and what can be viewed or photographed by Kirlian "photography". All living--and some inanimate--things have a "soul", but only human beings have a "spirit" which can be linked to God's Spirit by salvation. Idolatry is simply an addiction or habit at the spiritual level, something that interferes with our relationship with God.

I actually took the "est" training with "Werner Blowhard" before I became a Christian. I did get one thing of value out of it: you start with "being", then go to "doing", and then to "having". You are first, then you do, then you have. Everything proceeds from the spiritual, then to the soul-level, then to the physical. Sometimes, God is the only one who can change us. Some addictions and habits are beyond our volition; some aren't. If trying is beyond you, ask God.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Dan, that isn't quite what I said, but close enough. I just posted a little bit of a piece on sin and salvation, with appropriate music. I guess that's what we share. At some point we lost faith in ourselves and and were shown a way forward.

As to your addiction, I'm reminded of my late friend and occasional mentor, Manny Reyes. Manny was a wonderful man who died with something like 37 years of sobriety. He never stopped thanking God for the gift of sobriety and he devoted much of his life to helping others find sobriety.

When he was told that he had cancer and that his cancer had advanced and could no longer be treated, Manny's doctors assumed that he wanted to die an agonizing death, just to prove that he was sober to the end. Manny told them "No, this is what those drugs are for. I have had a wonderful life and I don't want to end it frightened and in agony."

Manny died, full of morphine, telling his family and friends that he loved us and urging us to trust and love God. It was a good death.