Remember the revelation, several years ago, that a daily glass or two of red wine was good for one's heart? I took that as great news, although at the time I was not a great lover of red wine. Hell, if it was good for me, I'd drink it! My problem arose from my belief that if a little of the stuff was good for me, a lot must be better! And down that road I went, skipping like a drunk munchkin toward Oz. I drank red wine when available, and I drank other alcoholic beverages at [frequent and lengthy] other times. Hence my membership in the club to which no one aspires to belong. I don't drink alcohol anymore.
But still I don't know moderation.
I don't have the moderation gene. I don't know how people eat one slice of pizza, or one cookie, or smoke one cigarette after dinner. If I like something, I want it, I want a lot of it, and I want it until it is no more.
On Thursday someone gave me two chocolate truffles, brand name Moser Roth. I had never heard of the brand, but I knew they would be good. Each truffle was wrapped in cafe au lait-colored heavy tissue paper with a sophisticatedly discreet quarter-inch-square foil sticker. Packaging has so much to do with one's enjoyment of some things. As a courtesy to my donor, I unwrapped one and popped it into my mouth. It . . . bloomed gradually, spreading over my tongue in cocoa-y flavor and light yet rich texture.
I put aside the second little package to enjoy later, knowing that its life would be measured in minutes. And it was. And it was just as delectable as the first. If I had had two pounds of the things, they would have been gone, and I would have been ill in, oh, say . . . a half hour.
I have smoked cigarettes off and [mostly] on for the better part of forty years. No one but a complete fool [or an addict] would think that would be anything but a Very Bad Idea. I stopped for ten years. One day, I thought, "It's a beautiful day. I'd love to have a cigarette." And I bought a pack and smoked for four more years. Stopped again for four years, chewed nicotine gum the entire four years. The dental hygienist loved me. All that gum chewing kept my teeth nice and clean. One balmy early summer evening four or five years ago, I decided that smoking a single cigarette would be a nice way to spend a few minutes with Husband on the patio. And I was off again. I liked it, and if one of an evening was . . . nice . . . then two or three would just prolong the pleasure. Thus spake the addict.
Now I am taking Chantix and it is working. I smoked, and did not enjoy, the last cigarette on the twelfth of August. Chantix, you see, takes away all the pleasure part of smoking and leaves a person with the bad taste, the stink, the awareness of the toxic gases' immediate effects on one's digestive and other systems. Not only did I not want to smoke, but other previously irresistible items lost their gleamy, glistening, glowing attraction. Ice cream, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, salty things . . . their reedy, wheedling little voices no longer called to me."I want to take this stuff for the rest of my life!" I thought.
If it's good, I want it all and I want it forever.
The idea is that one takes this medication for a few months while one builds other habits to replace the after-dinner cigarette, the morning-coffee-and-cigarette cigarette, etc. And then one stops taking the medication.
I can only wonder, idly at the moment, what substance will click, like a coin dropping in a vending machine, into the empty space left by the absent Chantix.
The phrase, "Moderation in all things," is common extrapolation of Aristotle's Doctrine of the Mean (as presented in his Nicomachean Ethics). His ethic works around finding the mean, or middle ground, between excess and deficiency.
It should be noted that Aristotle's ethic is often misundertood by its summary: moderation in all things. It is frequently reasoned by those unfamiliar with context that the common phrase means that a person should approach all things (whether healthy or unhealthy) with moderation; therefore, reasoning that a moderate amount of a bad thing can be indulged is not uncommon to find. This is an inaccurate representation of the perspective summarized in the popular phrase. ~Blue Letter Bible