A Culture of Addicts—The Problem with Living for Eternity

5 August 2013, 07:00

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life-is-a-journey-525Dictionary.com defines an “addict” as:
1. a person who is addicted to an activity, habit, or substance*

Growing up in the Advanced Training Institute (ATI), a quasi-cult, I was constantly bombarded with ideology promoting service, self-sacrifice, organizationalism, and a general detachment from the real world. As someone who was born with many talents and abilities, I always felt an urgency to do something great and world changing. The problem was that if I was to venture out and become successful alone, I would probably fall to pride, so the path stayed murky at best. What seemed like a good alternative was to put myself under someone else’s direction and assuage my need to accomplish something because I was so caught up accomplishing something for the organization—even if it was pushing a broom.

All the moments not spent absorbed in activity were spent in torment constantly analyzing all my options, few of which would be sanctioned by my authorities, or finding something else to make me feel good. I never thought I had an addictive personality because I have never been “hooked” on anything. I now know that is wrong. The only reason I haven’t gotten addicted to all the “evils” in the world of drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc, is because in the long run I know they will make me feel worse about myself. The one addiction that I never discovered until today is busyness, or it could also be labeled: escapism.

As an adult on my own, nearly 30, trying to put the pieces of my life into something that is more than just a blue collar worker on the edge of poverty, I struggle with intense depression many days. Often I wake up with the question running through my head: “Why do I do this every day?” Because I have seen the light and removed myself from abusive cult environments, and am not dulling my pain with the “pleasures of the world,” I am left with a nearly constant ache that doesn’t seem to have an answer. Then while driving today it hit me—this is life and life takes time and patience. The next thought through my head was, “But the years keep going by faster and I’m doing nothing!” Again—this is life. If you enjoy each day and make it count, it won’t feel like a waste.

It reminds me of that scene in the movie “Blood Diamond,” when Leo says, “TIA—this is Africa.” Basically what he means is, “Don’t feel sorry for me; it’s just how things go here.” I wish someone had taught me that when I was a child. Life is like being kicked in the groin for years at a time, and then when that stops you realize you can get semi-famous as the guy on America’s Got Talent for getting kicked in the groin.

I blame ATI for my false view of life. From my observation, most of the parents who entered ATI wanted to escape real life so they threw themselves and their children into programs and Training Centers—a “Young Communist”-esque matrix for us to all drown ourselves in. Sure they preached that life is hard and suffering breeds righteousness, but right alongside it was a morphine drip of leadership opportunities at Eagle Mountain, etc. You had an almost self-sustaining world to perpetuate the delusions.

If time travel wasn’t a ridiculous plot device to make Hollywood millions, one of the things I would go back and tell the young me is, “Life takes time and there is a lot of heartache, but TIL—this is life. You can make it cowboy.” (I like to pretend I’m Raylen Givens.) When you focus constantly on the future, you miss the things right in front of you and will get to the end of your life wondering where it all went. The same goes for numbing yourself with substances or activity. You look back at the blur that was your life and feel a general sense of emptiness. I want to have goals and ambition but what I want the most is to enjoy each day as it goes by—even the ones that suck. Life does what it wants, and at some point it will not conform to how you think it should play out. At that point you can either dope yourself up or just realize: this is life.

*Shame on dictionary.com for using a derivation of the word in the definition!

Note From Author: This short essay came to mind because I was thinking about “living for eternity” the past few days. I have felt such an incredible drive in my life because I was “supposed to be doing something”  – to have a purpose. But I could never pinpoint why I felt this so strongly until now. I feel that the concepts of “life is short,” “redeem the time,” and “live for eternity,” have the ability to put you in a low grade panic where you feel you are constantly falling behind unless you’re drown yourself in service. Instead of focusing on something so far away, we should be focusing on making the most out of each moment, trusting that they will all build up into a collection that will matter in an eternity to be had.

 Deaglan "Irish" is a 30 year old father of four amazing children. He is passionate about art, light, and life as he seeks to view each day through the lens of living life to the fullest. He works in the entertainment industry and is making strides in writing his first book.

 

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.

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