When you search for the definition of addiction on the Internet, the first line in the Wikipedia article states “Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences”. Reading that once and then once again did not diminish the gut-wrenching punch of those words. Addiction is, like the definition says, a state of mind that persists despite adverse consequences. Thankfully, that is when the society of humans comes around – to warn us of the perils of compulsive engagement and to work to reverse the impending tailspin – be it addiction to alcohol, to smoking products and so on. However, there is one form of addiction that escapes most radars until it is nearly too late – and that is addiction to work.
I am a recovering workaholic. As simple as that statement sounds, it has been one of the hardest of discoveries. A discovery that came when I had almost found myself staring down a cliff risking everything and everyone around me. This blog was a casualty of that addiction to work. And while I have managed to get my boat steady, I know that this is not a conclusive victory, rather it is a lifeline. My ability to keep steady comes from my willpower to stay close to this lifeline. If there is ever a sobering thought, that is definitely one.
What could be wrong with a guy who wants to work hard? Why is working harder than yesterday ever going to be a problem of this magnitude? The answer is simple. Unlike all other addictions, this one shreds the ability of the human mind to be creative, to be imaginative and above all, to be social. We are endowed with amazing abilities. The power to write, the strength to discover, the ability to inspire and that list of abilities goes on and on. Workaholism is the one powerful fog that can cloud out those abilities into a running, seemingly endless list of difficult yet mundane tasks. The mind gets onto a treadmill and never stops running, be it in the same place. While it may seem glorious, nothing could ever be more inglorious an addiction as the addiction to work.
As the title of this post suggests, that run on the treadmill has ended for me. I am humbled that I am able to write these words and look back with a sigh of relief; I am overjoyed that my friends, my family, my inspiration is intact and I feel reborn. I am ready to fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. I am ready to be me again!