Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lighting Up

Sometimes in a writing class, I'll ask students to write for twenty minutes to a prompt like this: "What could you give up if you had to?" or "If you could give up one thing in exchange for something else, what would those things be?"

Along these lines, I began reading Susan Shapiro's memoir, Lighting Up: How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking and Everything Else I Loved in Life Except Sex (2005, 2006) and am enjoying it. In order to deal with her smoking addiction(s), she begins seeing "the James Bond of psychotherapy," an interesting dude who takes a smart approach in helping her. One of his more interesting insights: "Underlying every substance problem I have ever seen is a deep depression that feels unbearable." And from a heroin-kicking memoir I just finished, there's the additional idea that "feelings are not facts."

Makes one wonder. Does coffee count? In all seriousness, it's hard to kick addictions. I've got friends who've been trying to quit smoking for years. I've gone through the same kind of cycles. Cigarettes are nasty but also comforting -- a tradeoff that's probably true for any number of addictions. In Lighting Up, Shapiro (living in New York City but originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) is challenged by her James Bond therapist: if she can give up x and y and z, she will have a book accepted for publication at the end of one year. And in her case, the challenge works. Sounds like it's worth a try, doesn't it?

Today's Rune: Defense.

Birthday: William Morris.

Go Tar Heels!


JR's Thumbprints said...

Hey, I'd give up almost anything for a book deal ... well, almost anything.

Sheila said...

I don't think I could ever give up sex.... have a great weekend!

Charles Gramlich said...

Underlying ever substance abuse problem is a deep depression? It's one of those things that sounds true. and sort of sad. I'm not sure I agree, because I think sometimes the depression comes after the substance abuse, but it's worth thinking about.

Lana said...

Re; "Go Tar Heels," this is way too ironic;

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks y'all for the comments --
Lana, to most UNCers, we're the Tar Heels. The Rams never stuck as a mascot -- still, sorry to see the Ram got in an accident. Bad omen. Got whipped in the next game. There's always next year. . . but it'll be hard to beat Michael Jordan days when I was an undergrad. there.