Saturday, May 02, 2009


Free Child Walking

on White Round Spheres

Balance Creative Commons
Originally uploaded by Pink Sherbet Photography
The disc continues to skip as a frustrated Manny presses the eject button on the DVD player. “I know what the problem is.”

I’m sure you do.

“It’s the alignment of the seek heads of this player, not the reading heads. See the seek heads are responsible for finding the correct track for the read heads so…,” he continues his seemingly endless rapid-monotone explanation of basic laser media mechanics. “…I’m not sure if it’s these scratches on the disk or the fact that this player gets beaten up so often,” this 5’ 1” skinny middle-aged man continues. I don’t dare interrupt his ramble for fear of throwing him off concentration of his desperate task at hand.

“Peanut butter smeared on a scratched DVD or CD can mend it…” How I’d like to smear peanut butter on your tongue right now. “…But I think replacing the DVD player would be smarter since they’re only $30 and the cafeteria only has chunky peanut butter, not smooth. Those digital artifacts are the cause of…”

Just fix the bloody thing in silence, please! If you hadn’t just had a UA, I’d swear you’re on something.

Manny P. is perfect a example of the need for balance in ones life. He’s a reminder of how difficult it is for me. For all his faults, we are talking about a man who has achieved three months of sobriety, earned a scholarship to Dunwoody Technical School, and found housing. From the look at him with his receding hairline and mustache, you’d assume he’s just a normal, white, everyday rational man. It’s only once he speaks that the illusion is shattered and the fear of an endless one-sided conversation occurs.

It frightens me to think of how tortured his mind must be to function in this manner. He is doing the one thing he knows will keep him safe, productive, and sober. He also believes that God will do for him what he cannot do for himself. But Heaven help him if he ever encounters an obstacle in the road that gives him an excuse to use.

A balanced life has harmony between a professional life and a personal life. Before I moved my life to be with June W. (my ex-wife), I worked hard twelve-hour days, yet had no personal life. Once moving in with June, my life with her was my addiction and work took a back seat. Once my work began to suffer, the excuse to drink about it became so compelling it soured every other important thing in my life.

Alcohol brought everything down to a level where nothing was in balance. There were times I had to climb mountains at work. There were times I didn’t recognize the extra energy needed to put into my relationship. Eventually, alcohol was the only thing I was doing well. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s probably because you’re not an alcoholic.

I have a need for a balanced life that takes into account friends, work, love, family, play, private time, recovery time, and spiritual time. Anyone of these things ignored for long enough could go dormant, just as any one these things obsessed over will suffer exhaustion. It is also noted that normal people, like June, can add liquor to that list with no detrimental consequences.

Alcohol in my system will always unbalance me. Now that I’m 78 days sober, I’ve come to realize these things about myself and balance: I have no inner voice to guide my balancing, I must learn how to live a balanced life, that this inherit character defect is not something normal people endure and that I will constantly have to monitor this for the rest of my life. Laying it out in the open like that doesn’t seem so daunting a task, just as long as I am willing to work on it.

For myself, recovery is like returning home from exile. I eagerly dive into the task of putting my life back together – securing a job and place to live, paying off debts, restore my driver’s license, rebuild damaged relationships. These external needs are all important, but the strength to consistently follow through on them comes from my spirituality – my relationship with God. By taking time each day to acknowledge His presence and to ask for the Power to do His will, I find a new sense of balance. And with balance comes serenity.

Diabetes is one of those things that can throw ones diet out of balance. It’s an ironic thing to have your body crave sugar when it needs it the least. Yet, since I’ve never really had the instinct to eat a balanced diet, my newly acquired eating requirements does balance out in a beneficial way; I’m loosing weight at least.

“Today, I will examine my life to see if the scales have swung too far in any area, or not far enough in some. I will work toward achieving balance.”
-- prayer from The Language of Letting Go, April 30

Manny acquires some smooth-spread Skippy peanut butter, applies it to the disc, and it plays flawlessly. For most people, the relief of completing such a challenging task successfully would follow solace. However unfortunately for Manny, it only leads to his next segway into yet another one-sided discussion on how “…the next generation of DVD players uses a much shorter wave-length laser light, blue rather than red, to read even finer detail pits from the disc; hence the trademark, Blue-ray.”

I nod in understanding. I didn’t have to heart to tell him that Sony does not have an exclusive on the usage of blue lasers on media, that Toshiba also uses them for their HD DVD players.

In conclusion, empathizing with Manny causes me to think like him, if not for a bit. My use of the slang term segway to describe his imbalance and the description of the financially unsuccessful personal transport vehicle Segway is ironically humorous: a self-balancing personal transportation device.

-- Without Wax

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