Addiction to almost anything is possible, I suppose. The Big Ones (which everyone can name) are Alcohol and Drug Addiction. You can also be addicted to relationships (stalkers?) or work or food. I am addicted to sweets. I can eat reasonably except for sweets. When I heard author Lauren Winner talk about the possibility of giving up reading for Lent, I knew instantly that I was addicted to reading. I can’t imagine going 40 days without reading. Would my soul shrivel up and die? I’d rather give up donuts. Or broccoli.
Enjoying something is not the same as addiction. I love baseball, but I am not addicted to baseball. I like to travel, but, for me, travel is not an addiction. I think it was Dave Barry who wrote that there is a thin line between a hobby and an addiction. So, we need to pay attention.
I am reading A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. It is the story of an addiction to travel. It is painful to read. As I write this blog, I’m only 100 pages into the story. Amanda Lindhout has not yet been kidnapped in the narrative, but you know she is going to be. And, thank God, she lived to tell about it.
As a former pastor who did a lot of counseling, I learned to recognize the signs of addiction. One phrase I heard from an addict at a 12-step meeting was his self-description as an “adrenaline junkie.” Addiction takes more and more of the product to achieve the same result. More! More! More! They make increasingly dubious choices. Paul Theroux famously wrote, “All the news out of Africa is bad. It made me want to go there…”
Amanda Lindhout did not ask to be kidnapped. I want to be clear about that. She was a victim. I can tell you more about her horror story when I finish the book. It is going to become way more painful to read than it already is.
But, having circulated on the edge of travel writers and career travelers for the past few years, I have seen this addiction, but never heard it named. I doubt we will get enough people together to start a support group, unless it meets at an airport or a train station. Still, I think someone ought to name the problem. Crossing too many boundaries is one of the surest signs of addiction.
Fellow travelers, let’s be careful.