I’m an addict and so are you. Everyone in the world has an addiction – be it booze, brains or beauty. An addiction is defined by the Collins English Dictionary: Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition as, “The condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit.”
As the summer careens to a close, like a car that speeds on the outermost reaches of a mountain road I find myself reflecting. What else would I be doing? If you’ve kept up with my blog for this long you’ll be conscious of the fact that I indulge in self-reflection quite often. These periods of mulling over life are regularly followed by a new blog post and sometimes, an accompanying soundtrack.
Today’s song lyrics come from The Band Perry’s melody, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely.” I know what you’re probably thinking, how does country music relate to having an addiction? Well, my answer is it doesn’t exactly correlate perfectly, then again what in this world does?
“When you’re young,
You can fly,
But we trip on clouds ’cause we get too high…
Well there’s nothing to hide and nothing to prove,
Give me all that you are,
You’ve got nothing to lose…
When you’re young,
Life’s a dream,
It’s a beautiful and a burning thing…”
I’ve been listening to this song for the past half hour at least, there’s just something about it. It speaks to me on an emotional level. In particular, the three verses above stand out in my mind, but each of them is significant for different reasons.
“When you’re young/You can fly/But we trip on clouds ’cause we get too high…”
Take the first trio, when we’re young we feel a unique blend of emotions. Caught between soaring invincibility and crushing vulnerability we are flying on the edges of our minds, just trying to reach the clouds and move away from the ground. Yet eventually, reality kicks in and sends us crashing down to the earth, because our license to imagine has expired. I’m not ready to give up on anything yet, but I fear I have unintentionally done so already. Sometimes I feel too caught up in my ideal future that I let the present pass me right by.
I am an addict to the future. I plan and work, sometimes to excess, for what? I’m not too sure, now that I think of it, am I trying to make my potential future happen sooner or be better when it actually rolls around? The trouble is that my dreams are part of that addiction – while I may have dropped some of them, there are most certainly a few which have defined my life.
I want to be a writer. I want to write for a living. Hence the semi-subheading of this post – I am not a journalist. I may write for my campus newspaper but I’ve never wanted to be a journalist by trade. Perhaps it’s just the title that bothers me. Despite my positive experiences with journalists I still perceive the vague clump of people implied by the word journalism to be pushy. I’ve never wanted to have to sit in front of someone and press them for information about their son who’s on trial for murder or to talk about their parent, killed by a drunk driver. I would want to be a friend, a sympathetic ear not a journalist. I never want to shout and shove to get the best sound byte – that’s just not who I am.
But I do write, though I hesitate to call myself a writer because I’ve been told that only fools are sure of themselves. I’m sure that applies to my situation too. Writing is one of my addictions.
This summer alone I have taken on three or four new blogging opportunities, some are temporary while others are contract positions. Not to mention the ones I am continuing with from the past year. Being able to reach people, to put my opinions out there and through writing of all mediums gives me a creative high. There’s no other way to describe it – I just want to write, all the time, every minute of every day. When I don’t write, I read, daydream or sleep – I need that creative outlet; I crave it.
“Well there’s nothing to hide and nothing to prove/Give me all that you are/You’ve got nothing to lose…”
Moving on to the second trio of lyrics, they tie in quite well with the first set actually. I’m naturally suspicious of people who say that they have nothing to hide. To me secrets are a natural outcome of existing in this society, everyone has something they won’t tell even their closest friends or family members. And there’s nothing wrong with keeping pieces of your mind, heart and soul private – it’s your life so privacy and respect should be accorded to you.
However, the line about having nothing to prove is more troubling to me. My life is driven by goals, no matter how small or how lofty, they keep me motivated. For instance, right now I am working on four articles for my campus newspaper and my goal is to complete all of them, on time and in fine form. But you see, the thing is I’m doing this because I want to prove to myself that I’m capable of repeating a process I’ve already done once. I’m not trying to prove anything to my editors. They are an understanding and supportive bunch and of course I want to do a good job, but it’s my goal, not theirs that is motivating me.
Which brings me to the next two lines, “Give me all that you are/You’ve got nothing to lose.” Giving yourself to someone, letting them in and having a corner of your mind and heart concerned with their well being is such a risky act. I may at times be easy to befriend but it takes a lot more than companionship to earn my trust and become my true friend. Friends, family members, parents and lovers – none of these people should ever be given “all of you” because one day they might not be there anymore and you’ll be left with a shell of yourself. Sometimes you have to learn to lean on yourself.
Now, I’m not advocating against forming attachments – that’s ridiculous. I love my parents, relatives, sisters, and friends; but I simply bear in mind that trust is a valuable commodity that should not be too widely or easily distributed.
Always keep a part of yourself for yourself, don’t lose that piece to someone or something ephemeral, because you do have something to lose. You possess a unique quality that belongs only to you – you always have something to lose, so when you’re betting don’t forget to keep that part close to your heart.
There are people addicted to openness and trust – others take pleasure in breaking those people. Addictions have both a dark and light side to them, some may drive you to succeed but only in moderation can these bursts of ambition be healthy. While when an obsession takes over hope, ambition and trust can be lost in the pursuit of the next hit, the next success – and producing the next victim. Protect yourself; guard your heart wisely – you are worth protecting.
“When you’re young/Life’s a dream/It’s a beautiful and a burning thing…”
Which brings me to the final set of lyrics, which call to my mind the song “Burn” by Ellie Goulding. Youth is like a sparkler. Bright enough to pierce the darkness, brilliant enough to write our names among the stars and gone much too quickly. It comes back to the dreams, yes, they’re beautiful but are they what’s responsible for the burning of our present?
That present which turns into the ashes of the past much too fast because we spend all our time gazing at the hypnotic beauty of the flames of the future. Our addictions turn us into confused and lost human beings – stuck at a crossroads we all feel tempted to either turn around and head back the way we came or plunge into the woods between the forked path. Either way – that’s not a real choice – it’s an escape.
Don’t hide away from life; it burns – with passion, curiosity and love. It’s alight with anger. It crackles with pain. Life is everyone’s addiction, because if it wasn’t why would we still be here?
Looking over what I’ve written so far makes me feel like I need a name tag…and group talk therapy. “Hi, my name is Sam,” — *Hi Sam* , “and I’m an addict. To writing, to loving and to living.”
Well, that’s sort of what this blog is acting as, apart from providing me a limitless venue of expression, it’s therapy for my soul.
Though I may be abnormally dependent upon my writing and my way of living that doesn’t mean my addiction is a curse. Just like actions are neutral until an intention (either negative or positive) is attached to them, so are addictions. I have the choice to make my status as an addict a positive experience.
“Don’t let me be lonely,” not tonight, or tomorrow – join me, embrace your faults, your beauty and those passions you just could not exist without. Stand tall – you’re an addict of experience, of living life to its fullest – accept yourself for who you are – addicted and content.
*No, I wasn’t intending to ripping off Marvel’s “Mutant and proud.” with that last phrase.