A Soul-Sickness in its Own Right (Step 4 continued)

All these failings generate fear, a soul-sickness in its own right. Then fear, in turn, generates more character defects. Unreasonable fear that our instincts will not be satisfied drives us to covet the possessions of others, to lust for sex and power, to become angry when our instinctive demands are threatened, to be envious when the ambitions of others seem to be realized while ours are not. We eat, drink, and grab for more of everything than we need, fearing we will never have enough. And with genuine alarm at the prospect of work, we stay lazy. We loaf and procrastinate, or work at best grudgingly and under half steam. These fears are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build.

(Aside: genuine alarm at the prospect of work is one of my favorite phrases in all of AA literature)

Fearing I will never have enough is the name of game for this period of my life! Despite all the evidence to the contrary. I’ve stopped working, for the first time in 30 years I’m not making any money. I’m too young for Social Security so I’m literally not taking in any money at all, except for Christmas and birthday presents from my mother. My wife plans to stop working in the near future. A frightening time for anyone, but I am materially blessed and lucky and privileged.

I heard someone at a meeting the other day say it helps her to think of character defects, instincts, in terms of what they meant to most people and what they still mean to some people as they scramble all day to meet their basic needs. The fear of not enough is real for so many people alive right now. I don’t know how far back I’d have to go with my own ancestors until I found someone who didn’t have enough, but I’m she is he is there within the past few hundred years.

Getting old – there isn’t enough money and technology to mediate all that’s wrong with my body, but still I get along.

I’m very intrigued by the idea that fear generates more character defects. I know I’m less effective, less pleasant, less happy when I’m afraid. And I eat more than I need not because I fear there won’t be enough but because I’m a glutton.

So I’ve got nothing helpful or hopeful here except the gratitude for a program that makes me look at these things and offers a spiritual solution.


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