An AA brother who shared at this week’s meeting had a culinary premise.
He began, “last night, I was cleaning up after making supper. I thought, there’s a pattern here. Clean the pot. Cook. Dirty the pot. Clean the pot. Cook. Over and over, it goes.
“Then I thought about my defects. There is a similar pattern. Remove the defect. Live. Find the defect. Remove defect. Live. Find the defect. Over and over, it goes.
“When I remove a defect, it is like cleaning a pot after cooking. I want it clean; I use hot water and soap for pots, amends and promises for defects. After cleaning the pot, I cook again, and the pot gets dirty; after cleaning a defect, I start living again, and there it is.
“The first significant defect, drinking, I did not clean; I threw it out, or at least put it on a back shelf, never to be included in my life again. But most of my defects are part of life. Fear, anger, judgement — they are part of living. And when I use them in life, I have trouble finding the right balance.
“I see now, I will never lose these defects. As Bill points out, our shortcomings are instincts out of balance. These instincts are not things like drinking, something I can do or not do; they are necessary parts of life.
“But when they are out of balance, which happens quickly, they become defects. And I am not skilled at finding the proper balancing point. The net effect, I find myself with another item on my spot check inventory and another amend.
“Fear is an excellent example of this. Fears of hot stoves and running out of gas are reasonable fears when appropriately balanced. I will stay away from hot stoves and ensure I fill the tank once in a while. But those are examples of moderation and balance.
“Fear, in balance, is a useful tool for living. But fear out of balance, not so much. Left to my own devices, I take things to extremes. I have a ‘half measures avail me nothing’ approach to life which drives me away from the proper balance point.
“To continue the stoves and gas tank examples, left to my own devices and judgement, fear will dominate and control me. Driving across town will take hours; I will obsessively stop at every gas station lest I run short of gas. And I will never heat a pot of soup for fear of turning on a stove and burning myself.
“If this lack of balance were limited to gas stations and hot stoves, there would not be a problem. But this phenomenon is ubiquitous. I miss the balance point in relationships, emotions, habits, and everything else in life.
“Fearing abandonment, I flee from commitment and run to dependency. Desiring sex and more sex, my life will be overtaken with desire. Needing to look good all the time, I strive to control and command everything around me.
Normal healthy instincts become character defects or shortcomings and make my life unmanageable. Finding the appropriate balance point is a constant and repeated effort.
“So, in the kitchen, I clean the pot. Cook. Dirty the pot. Clean the pot. Cook.
“And in life, I remove the defect. Live. Experience the defect. Remove the defect. Live. Experience the defect.
“That seems to be the way of life as I know it.”