I first heard the term “Positive Addiction” almost 50 years ago. Prominent on the list of positive addictions was “Runner’s High,” supposedly induced by the release of endorphins while jogging. It sounded good to me. Runners reported they had to run. No endorphins, no joy.
I had an endorphin addicted friend who left his house at 4:00 a.m. to run a four mile circuit…five days a week. He wasn’t exactly smug about it, but I could tell he felt superior to those of who didn’t. (And to show you how dangerous even positive addictions can be, he did the traditional fifty-mile run for his big Five-O birthday. If I didn’t already know the answer, I’d ask, “Why?”)
I accepted the unspoken challenge. For…oh, I don’t know…maybe three days in a row I rolled out of bed and laced up my tennies. Or, maybe my tennies had Velcro fasteners. I don’t remember that either. I like Velcro.
But, back to the point. On that first fateful morning, I proudly puffed and panted my way around a four block loop, hoping the whole time someone wouldn’t shoot me for a prowler. If you’ve never tried jogging at four a.m., you cannot understand how dark it can be. (I still don’t know why that time of night is called morning.)
In truth, I lasted almost six weeks. I’d estimate my puffing distance increased to a couple of miles. Maybe. Fortunately, my left knee decided enough was enough and thankfully imitated a balloon. At last, I had a good excuse to give up jogging without surrendering my pride. Besides, I can honestly say I never felt the rush of endorphins promised by my jogger friend. For me, it was all pain and no gain.
I have an addictive personality so I still liked the idea of positive addictions. I found artists, musicians, sculptors, some scientists, race care drivers, sky divers, rock climbers, cliff divers and other slightly demented people who could qualify as having positive addictions.
I decided I didn’t like the notion of skydiving, I couldn’t really paint or sculpt, my guitar playing was mediocre at best, rock diving wasn’t in the cards, and I couldn’t afford car racing. (Although I’m certain I would soon have challenged the great Mario Andretti on the race track.) Instead, I went in search of other positive addictions in which to indulge.
And I found I already had one: I read. (Or is it “reed?” I mean, how does the reader know if read is present tense or past tense?) As I count it, I’ve been reading full length novels for sixty-nine years. Make that sixty-nine years and about six months. (I’ve reached the age in which you start counting half years again.) I am borderline panicked by the thought of a house with no good books to read. When I have to, I’ll even read books that aren’t so good. And I keep a few old novels on the shelf to re-read in a pinch. Addicted. That’s the only word for it. I have to read or my day is unfulfilled.
If you are one of those “have to” readers, take heart. You may be addicted, but it’s a positive thing.