Bucket Problems: An Additional Post

B u c k e t    P r o b l e m s

Bucket with holes.

I wrote a post entitled “Bucket Problems”, about addictions.  One of the guys I try to keep up with, through his blogs, gave me feedback about that post.  His encouragement and insight brought me back to the writing desk, on the Other Side of the Trees, to write more about “Bucket Problems.”  Here is a hypothetical scenario, where addictions are at play:

A man pours his energy, heart and soul, into a bucket.  The idea is that the bucket will hold all that is valuable and sacred.  A shiny, good-looking, bucket.  But, emptiness happens.  Something is wrong.  He pours more of who he is, what he has, into the bucket.  But, the emptiness continues, and is stronger.  He pours out more of his sacred self into the great bucket.  The bucket, however, is not a great bucket.  In fact, it is not even a good bucket. The bucket has holes.  There are bucket problems.

“Addictions”, in our society, often refers to several categories: substance abuse; binge eating; alcoholism (even though alcohol is a substance).  Other addictions fly under the radar and are socially acceptable (and therefore are not considered addictions). Check out some of these potential addictions, a short list:

  1. Shopping
  2. Relationships
  3. Chocolate
  4. Sex
  5. Coffee
  6. Sugar
  7. Work
  8. Being a victim
  9. Eating

An addiction is not just about substance abuse.  Part of the human soul craves relief.  We want something that will ease the pain of living in this world.  We, as individuals, can (try to) hide in our addictions: work, reading books, eating.  My work in addictions, my work with addicts and recovering addicts led me to the realization that the addiction is not just about the addiction.  Something is driving the addiction(s).

Job 5:7 / http://www.picturequotes.com/man-is-born-to-trouble-as-the-sparks-fly-upward-quote-39242

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon (many people believe that the author was Solomon) wrote about his realization that everything he pursued for meaning and comfort was … meaningless. That is, everything but God.

1:12-14 ” …  I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I … study (studied) and to explore (explored) by wisdom all that is done under the heavens …14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

1:18 … For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.

Pleasures Are Meaningless (subtitle)

2:1-26 … I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test (self) with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 ‘Laughter,’ I said, ‘is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?’  I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards … 5 gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem … the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.

12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
    and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
    than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
    just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
    while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
    that the same fate overtakes them both.

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Solomon’s words “chasing the wind” suggest that such pursuits are futile.  Such cravings, are part of a desperate search for meaning, for comfort.  How we manage that, how we control that, is up to the individual.  My belief is that it is only through the “reliance” on God, that the “holes in the bucket are plugged.” *Note: the words quoted came about in a discussion with a poet-photographer-friend who blogs:

The Book of Bokeh / https://bookofbokeh.wordpress.com

The Book of Pain / https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

I would like to acknowledge one of my “go-to” books on addiction: Addiction and Grace by Gerald May.  I would not say that this volume is “easy reading” ; but instead an excellent reference for looking at addictions from a non-religious, non-denominational, and non-judgmental spiritual perspective.  The same author wrote The Awakened Heart, which I heartily recommend.

Thanks for reading this lengthy post, and I hope you found some value here.

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7 thoughts on “Bucket Problems: An Additional Post

  1. You had me at “the addiction is not just about the addiction. Something is driving the addiction(s).”

    An incredibly insightful post, T! I had never heard of or read that quotation, which is typical. It is probably not often quoted because it is long and needs contemplation, and moreover, does not offer quick or easy advice that can pithily be quoted. But it is very powerful, even more so because it takes some meditation to grasp it.

    As always, thank you!

  2. such a meaty post t- and well said – I like the list of things that can become addictive – and things that can become coping distractions and whatnot. and I love the passage about “about his realization that everything he pursued for meaning and comfort was … meaningless. That is, everything but God.”

    hope you have a nice week my friend

      1. Hi T – well take your time dropping by – I have not really posted for June yet. and actually – ecclesiastes was my very favorite book back in 1992 – it was a one of the first books that the Lord brought me to when I devoured the Bible that year – when I read and read and kept going back to certain passages that year. It was also when I heard Ravi for the first time and a few other key teachers/ and speakers. and sounds silly to some – but that period in 1992 was also when I heard romans 8:28 in a way that resonated with me – some lady was sharing her story and noted how all things work “for” good and well, even though some folks say that verse is overused or thrown around – it is so true and I guess all these years later I have seen for myself how things do work for good… and it really is a thing that draws one closer to God – anyhow, enjoyed your post xxooo

        1. Dr. Priorhouse – – – Your balm-like words, so unique when you graciously comment on a post from your good mind, sharply, carefully, attentive to spiritual matters. I find it important, and sacred, to hear from fellow sojourners about their experiences connected to different seasons / years of their lives … as in 1992 for you, a time where you immersed yourself into scripture, in a different way than ever before. The interconnectedness of passages stands alone as a phenomenon (exaggeration? I don’t know). Romans 8:28 “go-to” passage that speaks to the core of who we truly are. Peace.

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