Average: The Scariest Place on Earth

By Ken Wells - 06/16/2020


M. Scott Peck once wrote in his classic book, The Road Less Traveled that “life is difficult”. It’s also difficult to admit or accept that you are average. For many, to be average is the equivalent to failing. Who wants to talk about being a failure? Who celebrates being average—like, upon graduation throwing a party for yourself to celebrate finishing number 250 in a class of 500 with a solid 2.0 GPA!  For many, to be average is scary— it is to be unnoticed and insignificant. That’s just the way we treat average in our society.

Yet, average is a part of every one of us, whether you graduated from Harvard or just got your associates degree from a community college. What if we shifted the focus with the word “average” from evaluation of performance to an underscore of common experience that connects us all? It is the commonplace ordinary, everyday happenings that touches everyone equally and allows for the flow of Oneness within all. It includes the mundane, the failures, the ordinary routine, the common struggles and frustrations of insecurity, fear, anger and unwanted conflict that flow within the experience of the living. All of this, and more, is the mud of commonplace. I believe that it is this matter that becomes the stuff of life for each of us to find our own personal brilliance.

What’s average in the life of an addict? It is the struggle, the craving to act out and use that is relentless. It is the battle with mistaken belief that tells me that I am a piece of shit or worse. It is the fear of separation and the longing to belong and stave off loneliness. An average day in the life of an addict is to maintain sobriety one hour/one day at a time—simply establish a ground zero to start life without all of the craziness of addictive behavior. Are you kidding me— that’s average? Well, if that’s average then you can take that kind of average and you know where you can stick it!!

Yet, over the many years of treating addiction— my own and others – I have witnessed those very average struggles as the locus and domain in which addicts find their own personal brilliance. I have observed addicts struggle with cravings and desires to objectify and literally transform those moments of agony into moments of bliss. It is possible to reconstruct an urge to act out from a curse to a blessing, this occurs when I simply utilize the addictive desire or the moment of discomfort as a voice telling me to listen to what is underneath the craving and uncover the legitimate need that must be met in a healthy way. Whether the need is to take care of stress, shame, loneliness, human touch, affirmation or whatever, it is possible to translate the desire to act out into healthy self parenting with skill that alters the craving from a curse to a blessing in this way. This can be true of us all, whether addict or not. Though scary, addicts who lean into their addictive urge by removing themselves from high risk (getting out of the way of the bus barreling down the street with you sitting in the middle of the intersection) and search for and meet the legitimate need underneath the addictive urge, have transformed average commonplace addictive reality into their own personal brilliance. Recovering addicts lead the way for the world to see the possibility of finding your own personal brilliance in the stuff that make up the average every day struggle whether you are an addict or not.

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