The study of physics has taught us four basic things about energy.

  • Energy is never created or destroyed (this is called the First Law of Thermodynamics).
  • Energy can be transferred from one object to another.
  • Energy comes in many different forms, which can generally be divided into Potential or Kinetic energy.
  • Energy can be converted from any one of these forms into any other, and vice versa.

These concepts can be applied to all sorts of metaphysical ideas by people who have heard of these properties but not gone any further in their studies of physics.  However, we’re not talking about psychic energy and such; this is about energy as we use it daily, knowingly and with understanding.

When we apply energy we create work.  In physics, work has a very specific definition:

a force (energy) is said to do work if, when acting, there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force.  

In other words, if I give a ball a push it will move in the direction I pushed it.  Energy has been converted into work, and there is no way to move that ball without applying some sort of energy.

That’s also true of automobiles, which produce work using energy stored in gasoline, or batteries.  Horse-drawn carts moved via energy applied by horses, who got it from eating hay that had stored energy that it got from the sun.

The whole point is this: without the application of energy in the proper way and in the proper direction, no work gets done the way we’d like.  I can move my Hyundai by detonating a few sticks of dynamite beneath it, but that’s not useful work and most likely it wouldn’t get done the way I’d prefer.  (I’ve had a couple of cars where it would have been appropriate, but not this one.)

This stuff’s all pretty obvious, but for some reason there seems to be a common idea amongst folks who claim to be in recovery that they can achieve the work of changing themselves without applying any energy and doing the work.  There also are those who seem to fling energy around in all directions, trying to do things their way instead of applying it in tried and true fashion.

The writer Robert A. Heinlein espoused a philosophy that he expressed as TANSTAAFL — There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.  Someone, somewhere, is paying, and it may be us even though we don’t realize it.  In the case of recovery, it’s always us, but depending on our success or failure it may also include our loved ones, friends, other associates and — ultimately — society as a whole.

Energy.  Don’t just fling it around.  Find the direction that has worked for the most people, and pull your cart down the ruts they created.  You can strike off cross-country when you have energy to spare.



4 thoughts on “Energy

  1. Bill Post author

    Hi again Sarah,

    I doubt that any of us were comfortable or able to relate to the folks in AA until we’d been around for awhile. I urge you to attend at least six meetings. If after that you still feel that you can’t relate, the only other thing I can suggest is a therapist who specializes in addiction. I know nothing about the certification, etc. in either the UK or France, so I can’t help you with that. I do know that there are specialists. Perhaps one of them will see this and contact you.

    Hang in there,



  2. soakedthrough

    blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Dear Bill, Thank you so much for your informative email.I live in France but work in the UK. I tried AA a couple of times but found it hard. I just couldn’t relate to it or maybe didn’t want to if truth be known!My life at present is not that brilliant due to financial problems, living in a country I don’t particularly like and a job that I loath to my core. These are all triggering my excessive drinking of late. I’ve lost a few jobs now and I have let myself, partner, animals down. I’m the bread winner and the pressure of trying to cope is taking its tolI just wish I could have sometime out. but I can’t afford to go into a rehab as I think this is what I need at the moment. I feel totally lost and alone and I am so frightened because to stop drinking will almost be impossible. I’m literally scared. But i know this is only going to get worse if I continue.I’m a binge drinker the worst! Please stay in touch because I need as much support I can get.Thank you again for responding to my message. Kind regards, Sarah.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad


  3. Bill Post author

    Hi Sarah,

    Before you give up on treatment, which is certainly your best option if available, you might try calling a few treatment facilities in your area to see if they have scholarships available. Many do, especially in California and Florida, and some will underwrite your airfare as well. Here’s a list of currently-certified centers:

    For immediate support, you can call the AA Hotline in your area. That information is available here, and it is also available from your phone book or directory assistance. Even if you find treatment available, contacts in AA will be essential when you get back to your home territory (or elsewhere).

    AA is a must after treatment. It’s necessary to take advantage of the head start we get in treatment by continuing on a program of recovery until we have learned the habits of a sober person, as opposed to those of a drunk. That takes a lot of time. Those who fail to recognize that relapse at a devastating rate.

    Please stay in touch and let me know how things are working out for you.

    Keep on keepin’ on!



  4. soakedthrough

    Hello Bill,
    I desperately need help, I’m alcoholic and it’s spiralling out of control. I don’t know what direction to go in. I don’t have the money for rehab. I’m frightened, I need support.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.