“Knock, knock. It’s Leila”

I’m just back from spending two weeks in California teaching in a prison. The prisoners with whom I work are learning to become addiction treatment counselors. Many of them are lifers, doing time for murder. Of necessity, they have to do their own recovery and rehabilitation work in order to become effective counselors. It’s a long hard road for them.

The majority of these prisoners were seriously abused and/or neglected as children. Terrible things happened to them. Most of them used substances to numb the pain of those terrible things. Because, for whatever reason, they couldn’t recover, they, in turn, did terrible things. Author Richard Rohr says it like this: “…if you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it to those around you and even to the next generation.” (The Naked Nowpage 125) Continue reading

Trading addiction for habit

Just when I was feeling pretty good about how we’ve chosen to position ourselves in the world — across the hall! — I was pulled up short by how I choose to interact with the world.

It happened early Sunday morning. Opening The New York Times to the Sunday Review section, I was confronted with a jarring illustration above a headline that hit painfully close to home: Addicted to Distraction.

IMG_0711The essay by Tony Schwartz recounts his realization that he’d been looking in all the wrong places for the energy and inspiration he needs to fuel his life. With some work, he made progress reversing a lifestyle of too much diet soda, too many carbs, too often a second drink in the evening.

The tougher challenge? Clicking in and out of email, checking website stats, chasing mindless clickbait down rabbit holes too embarrassing to identify by name or url.

Me, too.

It seems so incongruous. Here I am living in an idyllic physical environment, surrounded by loved ones, and I’m still distracted by stuff that’s not only less important but less appealing as well.

Schwartz is right to put a tough label on it: Addiction, which he defines like this: “The relentless pull to a substance or activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with everyday life.”

Among the 266 comments attached to the article is this especially apt description of the Internet: “It ain’t called the net for nothing. The more we thrash around in it, the more tightly bound we become.”

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