Sherman Alexie says the following in his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, "There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make that pain go away."
We are an addicted society. And by "addicted" I mean so much more than what usually comes to mind when the idea of addiction comes up. Like addictions to alcohol, opiates, sex, or gambling. In a sense those are the easy addictions. They are right out there in an obvious quantifiable way.
No. The addictions I'm talking about are much subtler, much more insidious and universal. I'm talking about addiction to distraction--about an increasingly acculturated ADHD, a chosen shallowness of thought and concern that avoids the real work of being.
This distraction, this spiritual avoidance, is an especial danger to the entrepreneur. More than any vocation I can think of, the entrepreneur lives on the edge of disaster. Though the rewards can be great, the majority of entrepreneurs ultimately will fail. That is a simple truth. Each day can pose a real existential danger of plunging into the abyss of bankruptcy for the creative business person. It makes the temptation to escape into any number of compulsive penultimate activities almost overwhelming at times.
Which brings me to the subject of President Donald Trump. The Trump phenomenon is a ubiquitous soul sucking drama. It's a Broadway show that never ends. It is a binge watch drawing us like a black hole in the fabric of real existence. I have personally never seen anything like it. It feeds us with empty calories at a fascinating but vacuous banquet.
In short, it is an anti-mindful way to keep our eyes off the main chance, that is, off our vocations. The narrative of Donald Trump is an all-too-easy excuse to keep us from being really present in our own lives and to keep us from working through our greatest personal fears. For too many of us this means avoiding facing our fears of failure by plopping ourselves down on the sofa and allowing ourselves to fall hopelessly into the maw of the distraction offered by the daily dosage of the Trump soap opera. It can become an irresistible trip down the rabbit hole of avoidance.
It matters not on which side you are politically. The high emotions of political admiration or hatred offered by this drama keeps us away from growing through the deeper personal and business challenges.
To my mind an addiction is anything that allows avoidance of actually living life completely and well. For this avoidance Trump mania qualifies in spades.
Last Friday Dr. Stephen Bauman of Christ Church Methodist in NYC wrote the following about our current uncentering news dystopia in an essay titled "Breaktime." He says,
"I need a break. You likely do too. A break from the news/info maelstrom frothed up for us every morning and evening, well, all time in between too. It comes at us relentlessly, crashing in on consciousness, devouring valuable real estate in our attention library. It's hard to shake.
Periodically I recognize addictive patterns have formed and I must cease and desist from feeds and apps. I must put down the net, sit quietly for at least ten minutes longer if I am able, although sometimes that's hard when the fix is on my brain.
This takes conscious, intentional effort. Like an alcoholic walking into an AA meeting, I must admit my powerlessness to switch it off, since the adrenaline and endorphins fight to be fed. I need to let go...
Admit that from time to time you share this dis-ease: The more stuff that's thrown at you, the less intelligent you become, the less nuanced and reflective, the more tribal and reactive.
Carl Jung puts it this way. "Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine, or idealism." Thank you, Carl.