Life is Like a Table

The other day, when it was getting a bit much for me, a very close friend of mine told me the concept of your life being like a table with lots of legs. Each one of the legs is one of the stabilising factors in your life; your job, your relationship, your finances, your parents, your children, your sobriety, your home. If there’s a problem with one, or even two of those legs, the table can still be pretty stable. But if you get too many problems with too many of those things at one time, things can get pretty unstable pretty quickly.

This is why people who are, for example, trapped in an unhappy relationship, can still feel ok at times. If everything else is absolutely perfect they can probably cope. But them it doesn’t take much else to go wrong before things can feel very out of hand.

That got me thinking about these table legs, these pillars of stability in our life. Take a look back at the list, think about some others that you might include. When I looked at my list I realised that ‘sobriety’ was an odd one out; it has something unique about it that makes if rather wonderful. Any ideas what it is?

When I looked at my pillars of stability they were all out of my control to one degree or another. I may be able to exercise some (limited) degree of control over them, and I may be able to take steps to remedy or mitigate things when they go wrong, but on the whole they are things that are totally out of my control.

A bad day at work, partner in a foul mood, parents or children being unwell. These are all things that just happen, or seem to, and are totally outside of our control. But sobriety? Not drinking? That is the only thing over which we have total control.

This is good because for many of us, without sobriety none of the other pillars would last long anyway. I remember in AA being told that sobriety had to come first. There was no ‘I can’t attend a meeting tonight because I have to work late / have a family function / have to visit a relative’. Because without sobriety none of those things would even exist.

For some people, sobriety is something they have to practise to survive. For me it’s far more than that. It’s the one central tenet of my life, the thing I can rely on above all others, because it’s the one thing over which I have total control.

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12 Responses

  1. Well it can’t be that good or you wouldn’t be reduced to advertising it in such a dreadful way.

    1. Yours is the best response. I sort of (kinda sorta, kinda notta) regret mine. I quit AA 28 years ago as people like this (delusions of grandeur and other mental illnesses) hold court there without anyone checking them.

  2. Excellent and thought provoking metaphor William. The table chair analogy is on point and applies to me currently, as my temp career in a Covid related position has now ended. The feeling of one of the table legs being removed def had an effect subconsciously on my self esteem.

    Fortunately, I’ve developed a personal foundation of self worth through my own spiritual experiences (that happened because of trauma) that have rendered my belief in an infinite self to be the solid foundation of my own life “table.” The things that come and go in life: jobs, people, relationships, titles, possessions, emotions, etc are all waves in the ocean of my experience. When I identify WITH the waves, my own emotional state becomes chaotic. Most is out of our control as you stated.

    And even within controlling our sobriety, many other waves splash against us with elation and disappointment. Now to put all the pressure on sobriety itself is a lot of pressure for one leg to maintain in the midst of a chaotic storm of unexpected life experiences for me. The foundation BEYOND sobriety was the concept of an infinite self.

    As energy cannot be created or destroyed, neither can awareness. Our awareness can change, but it cannot be destroyed. In my own journey of alcohol addiction and release, part of my fascination was with altering my awareness. Easily bored with life and a rapid thinker, creator, and musician- I found the altering states interesting to experience- until they started creating unforeseen complications. What was left when I took away the alcohol drenched haze of awareness was a new awareness that was cleaner, clearer, and much more vast in scope. I was afraid of my own mortality so I used alcohol to speed up the inevitable.

    I’m sobriety, I faced my mortality and realized a personal truth that everything simply is in an infinite process of evolution, including my awareness, consciousness. My consciousness evolved through my addiction experience, much like a firing of soft, amorphous clay into a glazed ceramic piece of intricate detail and solidity. Regardless of what stage any of us are in at any given time, I believe we are ALL evolving in our own unique way on separate paths that intervene with each other quite miraculously- sort of like how I came across “Alcohol Explained” right as I was deciding to change my life trajectory and try sobriety on for size.

    No matter how much we experience, no matter how heavy things often feel, and no matter how incapable of change we think we are limited by- the waves come and go regardless, change happens regardless, we evolve through every experience, even in minute ways. We need the challenge to explore how we react to it. There is something amazing about our tenacity of experience here, the tenacity of our addictions and the way we can USE that same tenacious energy to apply to other things besides a “boring predictable addiction” such as a new hobby, a new career, a book, a new friend group of relationship attempt (lol) and even a metaphysical inquiry to the nature of our awareness.

    I believe we are all infinite here having a temporary experience called “being human.” May your journey bloom with color regardless of where it takes you.

    1. JJ, what’s beautifully written comment. I couldn’t agree more and I will be re-reading this a few times. Much love and gratitude to you!

    2. yes, JJ, I love your comments and perspective. I share much of this, and laughed at the “relationship attempt” phrase. Thank you for posting!

  3. I am not sure why people like you sign up to this kind of newsletter if you are going to react with such toxicity?
    William ( as always ) is only trying to help.
    You clearly have issues of your own…….

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William Porter

William wrote Alcohol Explained to share his approach on recovering from alcohol dependency.

Read the first five chapters of 

Alcohol Explained

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