I’ve always felt mildly superior to people who have a worse case than mine of whatever is bothering me. Recently, for example, I wondered if “ear picking” was a common phenomenon, and one of the first hits I found for that phrase was a message board in which people confessed to torturing their ear canals to the point of bleeding and infection. “I’m not that bad (yet),” I thought, with mixed feelings of relief, compassion, schadenfreude, and superiority.

But maybe I would have a richer life if I were a little more extreme in some ways. Maybe my real problem is that I take moderation to the extreme. If I never hit bottom, how will I ever recover? And from what?


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