An Encouraging Word — Addicted to excitement

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

Those who love pleasure will suffer want. Proverbs 21:17

Every newscast today seemed to have the same story — the story of the opening of the world’s tallest waterslide called “Verruckt” (German for insane),  featuring a 168-foot plunge so dangerous that the park worker has to read a two-page list of disclaimers. One of the warnings on the list is “death.”

Magic Mountain brags about their death defying roller coaster called “Goliath.” It is part of the growing passion for “bigger, better, faster, more intense, longer lasting, louder scarier and a higher high.”

More and more people cannot go about their daily routines without incessant phone chatting and texting. One of the most pathetic things I have seen recently was a family of four in a restaurant and all four of them had their heads in their cellphones.

The electronic business takes advantage of this appetite by producing louder and thumpier car speakers and more and more sophisticated social communication gadgets. Hobbies like bungee jumping, sky diving, hang gliding, base jumping, free running, cliff jumping and other “extreme sports” continue to grow in popularity. Drug users seek out more intense drugs. Pornography is now considered a full blown addiction.

The routine of sex within marriage does not have a chance in a culture that seeks out adulterous affairs. This growing appetite for excitement and pleasure is spawning more and more websites to help people commit adultery discretely. One has the slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair.”

It is obvious to anyone with eyes to see that we are using excitement more and more for pleasure. We have come to depend on the perpetual flow of adrenaline to make life interesting. When there is not excitement we feel down and bored.

The experience of pleasure is a fundamental gift of God. Today we are running the risk of losing our capacity to experience the pleasure of simple, ordinary things. Our brains’ pleasure centers are becoming flooded. This flooding raises the threshold that must be exceeded the next time we experience pleasure.

Like typical addicts we need more and more, then more and more, then more and more to get the same “high.” Addicting drugs like cocaine operate on the same pleasure center as thrill-seeking behaviors.

Obviously, this does not mean there is no place for pleasure. But we are not designed for constant, exciting stimulation. Our pleasure center needs time to rest or else we will never be able to enjoy a normal life and simple things like moments of quiet meditation, watching a sunset, reading on the porch and normal dinner conversation.

We need to accept that a “deficit in excitement” is necessary for healthy functioning. Believe it or not, boredom is actually good for us. It provides the time our minds and bodies need for rejuvenation. That’s why I am deliberately “doing nothing much” this first two months of retirement. I want to see just how addicted I am to work and accomplishing things.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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