With life laying out so many temptations before us, most of which are not really beneficial to our wellbeing, the willpower to resist the urge to take that final step of fully embracing those temptations is phenomenal. The majority of people have a clear sense of right and wrong and know instinctively when something is against their best interests, but sometimes you wonder just how close you are to taking things that step too far.
Everyone has a weakness tucked away somewhere, whether it's overindulging in a particular food or drink, driving way too fast, taking drugs, sleeping around, or throwing yourself off ever taller things with nothing more than a bit of nylon to prevent unintentionally rapid deceleration and ultimate conversion to a somewhat more liquid state. This begs the question - are we all living on the edge?
My own tightrope walk takes place with alcohol, and it shames me to admit that if my willpower was to fail just a little, I'd be on the fast track to being a fully fledged alcoholic, complete with a big puffy red nose that would put Rudolph to shame. If alcohol is in the house it needs to be drunk. My saving grace is that while I thoroughly enjoy that 'comfortably numb' feeling (now I feel a Pink Floyd session coming on) I really don't like being totally pissed. I dislike that feeling of the world swimming around me and wondering if dinner is going to come back for an encore. I prefer not having to lie in bed with one foot on the floor to stop the world spinning, and I especially prefer to avoid the living hell of a hangover wagging its finger at me in disapproval while simultaneously hitting me on the head with a baseball bat to remind me not to be so bloody stupid in future.
So all the time I can limit myself to a couple of doubles or half a bottle of wine, or a pint of ale then I'm coping - assuming I'm giving my liver a couple of days rest each week.
It's hard though. Coming home this evening after a day of third year undergraduates followed by a drive home in the awful rush hour traffic, my very first instinct was to reach for the rapidly diminishing bottle of Jim Beam to pour myself an extra large measure, plus another to accompany the very welcome large bowl of chilli.
I do appreciate a drop of good quality stuff in my glass, such as a nice 18 year old Talisker, a nicely aged Rioja or an interesting local ale, but sometimes the standards slip and any old shite will do as long as it induces that fluffy 'detached from reality' feeling. Not good I admit, and every so often I have to rein myself in to avoid plunging headlong into the depths of an uncontrollable and permanent stupor.
Another failing of mine that needs ongoing monitoring is biscuits. I'm weak and I have cravings that must be fulfilled, but stepping on the scales regularly reminds me that I'm not only human, but middle-aged and can no longer consume whole packets of double-choc cookies without some kind of fight taking place with gravity, usually involving tight trousers and a couple of weeks of dieting to undo the damage. It's not fair. Why can't your 'Five a day' be five portions of crisps and chocolate? And more importantly, why is all the stuff that's bad for you so much cheaper than fresh fruit and vegetables?
Maybe we're all balanced on the verge of losing our shit in some form or another. All it might take is one trivial little thing to transform from a mild-mannered pillar of society to someone running amok in a shopping precinct completely naked apart from a hand-knitted balaclava and waving a large baguette while quoting lines from 'Braveheart'.
How hard would it be to go from enjoying an occasional spliff to shutting yourself indoors with a big pile of home-grown and refusing to go to work?
How often have you wished you were driving an armoured Humvee instead of a Vauxhall Astra so you could simply shove the traffic queue aside on the way home? Or would it really be such a great loss to the world if some poor sod decided they'd had enough of committee meetings and went on a rampage of bloodlust through the 'Big Brother' house in a desperate bid to rid us of lobotomy TV once and for all?
I very much doubt that I'm the only one to wander through life full of self doubt; wondering if I'm going mad or if perhaps I'm the only sane one and everyone else has lost the plot. One thing's for sure - unless the men in white coats lock me away, I'm unlikely to find the answer.