helen keller is an enabler :: adrenaline addiction, the artistic temperament, and my new wingsuit habit

March 26, 2011

Hello. Um, is this thing on?  I’m Joshua…. and I’m an adrenaline addict. (Hi Joshua.)

I remember the day  in vocal pedagogy class at Northwestern College we discussed a very real issue plaguing many performing artists… adrenaline addiction.  The basic idea here is that those of us who spend time as artists performing in front of crowds of people get “hooked” on the rush of adrenaline that goes along with the risk of performance.  It’s a bit of a chickens and eggs deal here, meaning, do the adrenaline-addicted seek out performance opportunities to feed their habit, or do performers get hooked on adrenaline in part because of the spotlight?  Either way, Mr. Sawyer discussed the way this “need for the rush” can manifest itself in daily life…

Procrastination. Risky behavior.  Perpetually running late. Trying to beat deadlines in the nick of time.  Relational drama and emotional instability. All of these are almost stereotypical problems among really artistic people – especially those who are often “in the spotlight” as performing artists.

How does this manifest in my life?  Confession:  I never leave enough time to drive from wherever I am to wherever I need to be.  I’m 6 minutes late to everything. (Which is an improvement.  I used to be 8 minutes late to everything.)  I’m not proud of this, by any stretch, but confession is good for the soul, so I’m getting it out there.  I still remember Mr. Sawyer talking about the adrenaline-junkie tendency to leave a few minutes late for their appointments… and then get exasperated by the 80 year old woman in her beige Oldsmobile who is simply driving the speed limit… in front of you.  (Yeah.  Bulls-eye.  Guilty as charged.)

What about you, artistic people? Do you suffer from adrenaline addiction?  How does it raise its ugly head in your life?  Maybe you just need a new hobby. Meet Jeb Corliss…

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  -Helen Keller

OK then!  I’m buying what you’re selling Helen! Either you and Jeb are enabling me to remain in the co-dependent grip of a raging toxic adrenaline addiction, or life really IS mean to be lived out loud.  YES.  From now on, my suburban reality will be punctuated by more car chases, and my Friday evening strolls by the lake will look much more like Mountain Dew commercials, full of rugged outdoorsmanry and encounters with dangerous carnivores.  Bring ’em on.

I was so close to kicking the habit.  What was I thinking?!  I can manage this. It’s  not that big a deal.  At least I pledge, from this day forward, to leave ample time to drive for my appointments.  Adrenaline addiction?  Nah.  I can quit any time I want.

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“helen keller is an enabler :: adrenaline addiction, the artistic temperament, and my new wingsuit habit” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.