A crackling bolt of sheer panic struck me this week on the way to the office, just as surely as if lightning had targeted me from 40,000 feet above and zapped me in my car.
About midway to the office, I realized my Blackberry was sitting next to the sink on my bathroom counter at home. I almost hit the car just feet in front of me. I felt my heart start to race. My whole body seemed flushed and overtaken by anxiety — and I’m feeling it again just writing about it.
Addictions come in many forms and I seem to have mastered most of them. But only this week, after laughing about it for so many years, did I realized I was indeed a CrackBerry addict.
Addiction Meets Delusion
I couldn’t return home to get the Blackberry without being late to a meeting and so, like any self-respecting addict, I started the pointless exercise of trying to convince myself that I would be just fine without it for a day. That’s called delusion.
By the time, I got to the office, I had the actual, physical shakes. Who had tried to call me in the last 10 minutes? What emails were sitting there unread that needed — at least in my deluded state — an immediate response? What issue required me to jump in immediately before it went sideways and forced me to spend entirely too much time getting it back on track? How could I control things without my mobile control panel in my pocket?
Of course, after docking my laptop and suffering through the excruciatingly slow boot-up, I saw in my emails only a news update from the New York Times that I’d already heard on the radio — what stray gene requires one to get news updates on their Blackberry, anyway? — along with three emails with no sense of urgency. I viewed these on the two in-boxes on the two side-by-side screens that I keep going on my desk all day. Addicted to information? Who me?
And, while the shakes slowly did start to subside, I glanced at my calendar and realized that I would be in meetings all day, during which someone might actually need a quick response. I even had a lunch meeting that would require a 10 minute drive — without phone, without text, without email for when my car broke down — not that my Lexus has ever broken down nor probably ever will.
I Can Do This
I called my wife, who is painfully aware of (and I believe even somewhat amused by) my random addictions, and she immediately offered to drive the Blackberry to the office, if only to lower my blood pressure. My admin arrived and offered to drive to my house to retrieve it.
How silly, I thought. I can’t seriously ask people to drop what they are doing to get something I should be able to live without for the next 10 hours. But, I saw the skepticism in my admin’s face and heard it in my wife’s voice, like they were saying, “Pal, we expect you to go into the DTs any moment so let us just get you your fix.”
By the time I left for my two-hour meeting, I was in full hypertensive mode: what additional emails might arrive that needed my attention? Was there a crisis circling to land while my radar was down? This cold-turkey thing clearly wasn’t working.
By the time my ashen self returned to my office and got to my dual screens, there were 50+ emails sitting there unread. AAArrrggghhh!
The panic returned. I scanned the list and saw several from my wife — she knows my random addictions all too well — and opened the most recent, which assured me she already had found out where my lunch meeting was being held and would leave my Blackberry there with the hostess.
I was early for lunch for the first time in months.
Would A Friendly Intervention Been Too Much to Ask?
When I returned to work and stepped off the elevator, I waved my Blackberry sort of like Jeff Bridges shook his Oscar in the air and said to the two admins who sit outside my office, “Whew! I got it back. You know, I think I may be addicted to this thing.” They looked at each other, laughed in unison and said, “You think? We could have told you that.”
I laughed…sort of…until I realized I had been walking around with this very public addiction, and nobody had bothered to intervene.
Back in the ’70s and early ’80s, I did TM — Transcendental Meditation. I wasn’t into its mystical elements and never, well never very seriously, considered heading off to join the Maharishi at either his compound in Switzerland or his retreat in India. But TM brought me, as the Maharishi would say in his wonderfully high-pitched, sing-song voice, ‘profound relaxation.’
I started meditating again this week and found it both incredibly easy to get back into and, yes, profoundly relaxing. With my mantra and me now reunited, I’m actually experimenting with leaving my Blackberry somewhere else in the house for up to a couple of hours at at time while I’m doing something elsewhere. I even went to the bathroom at work without it once yesterday.
It’s a start, but the road back from addiction begins with small steps…right?
Facing My Addictions
I started buying wine several years ago and today have no idea how much is in my collection, since I don’t even store it at home. But it’s more than my wife and I will ever drink and certainly more than I need. So, with a newfound awareness of my overactive addiction gene, this week I only bought four bottles of Barolo that my wine broker offered for sale, feeling very much in control again.
And, all of this self-contentment was fine until I fired-up my home computer today to update my iPod playlist. Once iTunes loaded, I glanced down at the tally bar at the bottom of the screen to see I have amassed 6,850 songs — that’s 19.5 days and 468 hours of music in my iTunes library. How possibly did I assemble 4.9 days of rock, 2.2 days of classical, 2.3 days of pop, 1.5 days of jazz, 1.7 days of country, and excessive numbers of hours of hip-hop, reggae, easy-listening, contemporary Christian, New Age, R&B/soul, alternative and holiday music — all supported by two back-up systems in case my system crashes.
This music obsesion is truly an illness — unless I’m stranded somewhere for 20 days with nothing to do and lots of battery power. It’s yet another addiction that strikes too close to home.
So, I fought the urge today to buy Dean Brody’s latest CD, even though one of his band members recommended it to me this week. Well, maybe I’ll download just a couple of songs, since I really do need more country tunes.
I think it’s time to meditate.