Enthusiasm- Recovery Word of the Week

 “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” -Aldous Huxley

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” -Aldous Huxley

As we continue our Word of the Week series here at South Orange County Detox, this week we will be focusing on the word enthusiasm. Aldous Huxley stated that, “The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” I wanted to start off with this quote as it exemplifies, in my opinion, the reason why maintaining enthusiasm throughout our lives is an invaluable skill. I use “skill” purposefully as I believe enthusiasm can often be thought of as something that is bestowed upon us, or a fleeting sense of excitement towards an established goal. While it can be both of those, more frequently than not, it is a state of being that is “earned” rather than a state gifted upon us by a source not within ourselves. This begs the question, “How, practically, do I earn this and how do I apply it in my daily life?” The answer is simple, however, the application is not. As Huxley pointed out, we need to be able to harness a curiosity towards life, just as a child would. Anyone who has interacted with a child knows that their favorite question to as is “why?” As we grow older we become susceptible to the seduction of a nihilistic approach to life whereby we accept what is, and merely “move on”, so to speak. While I understand the appeal to this perspective as I championed it ignorantly for a large part of my life, it needs to be emphasized that this approach leads to depression, apathy, and ultimately for the addict, relapse. In the Greek and Latin languages, respectively, enthusiasm means to be “filled with God” and to “study”. This is important because it conveys to us the importance of harvesting the ability to seek answers as means to obtain clarity when curious, and to do so with a fervor that is driven by the recognition that it is divinely inspired. How difficult is this to put in action, you might ask? Well, here’s some good news: if we are adhering to the tenets of the 12 steps, we ought to be engaging with highs and lows of life, enthusiastically, on a daily basis. When we wrong someone, we are enthusiastic about taking personal responsibility; when we succeed at something, we are enthusiastic about doubling down on that success and working even harder; when we see someone struggling, we are enthusiastic to help them as we were once helped; and if we should relapse, we commit to “studying” what went off track in order to ameliorate the issues, and doing so with the understanding that we are already “filled with God” which can help give us the extra energy to persevere even when life can become seemingly unbearable.  When I struggle, I reach for inspiration in any form that will light a fire within myself again. An old poem that often grants me the enthusiasm I need to continue enduring goes something like this, “You'll do it, despite rejection, isolation, derision, and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.”