The meaninglessness of addiction

In our creativity lesson this week, teacher Eric Maisel talked about meaning and the struggle that creatives have in finding life meaningful. Many people, perhaps most, in the world, do not struggle with meaning issues. They are happy or unhappy, settled or unsettled, but they don't experience the kind of existential sadness that some of us do when our activities or way of life seem meaningless. He posited that some of us are just born that way, born wanting life to be meaningful.

I was born with this yearning. I've often associated it with being a highly sensitive person, not exactly hypersensitive to others, but hypersensitive to existence and what I am doing here and what it all means. But until this morning, I had not clearly and directly associated that yearning with my experiences with addiction: sugar, alcohol, relationships with men. I had not seen that a perception that life isn't meaningful enough has a connection to self-soothing and wanting to numb out.  I wrote "addiction" down in my notebook as Maisel went on lecturing and then he himself came to that idea, mentioning the creatives' propensity for addiction to substances and behaviors.

Many of us addicts and alcoholics are disappointed by life. The thrills don't last, the happiness doesn't last. Relationships end or fade into routine. We learn all we can from a job and then we're bored and tired of it. And we grow disillusioned with religion when the meaning it tries to impose on us doesn't hold up in the face of reality.

Addiction, for me anyway, has been a response to that overwhelming sense of meaninglessness and sobriety my attempts to find meaning. What a breakthrough to be able to articulate this.


Judy Todd said…
One of the books I've been reading this week is 'Trickster Makes the World' by Lewis Hyde. My take on 'meaning' from what he's exploring through creation mythology and the denizens of gods and goddesses in classical literature, is that it is all based in lie/no lie. This propensity to craft reality is an ultimate form of creativity, according to Hyde, and one of the ways we are distinct in the predator/prey species cosmos.
A rather fascinating antidote to making meaning, in any traditional sense, in my limited understanding.

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