Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some up, some down

It may be hard to believe but Aristotle may be right.  The man lived thousands of years ago and he wasn't alone in noticing that many things in life go better with what is called "moderation".  We function better in light than in darkness but there can be too much light.  In our house right now, the brilliant white snow all around can give me a headache from just looking out the window.  You take the full force of a bright sun, even a last day of winter Wisconsin sun and shine it on brilliant white snow all over the place and Yikes!  Blinded!  Squinting!  Where are my sunglasses?  Let's adjust the blinds to dim that overwhelming light a little.

The motto "Moderation in all things" is a juicy target for moderns.  We love our logical insights and ask if that means we should be moderate in being moderate.  But, despite all the years since the Athenians dialogued on the mean as the path toward better living, we aren't all that much different from what they were.  We still breathe, still eat and drink, still sleep and inhabit human, mortal bodies in limited time and space.  My t-shirt from the Green Parrot bar in Key West says "Excess in moderation".  Some of us delight in a dozen years or so of excess but along come other pleasures and other goals and goals of attaining other pleasures and pictures of ourselves.  We moderate our activities and over the whole of our lives, we actually wind up rather moderate, with moderate periods of concentration and focus.

I like to take principles against idolatry to also be for moderation.  I think it is ok to have a picture of the kids' abilities but not to get so deep into it that I lose sight of the kids' shortcomings.  I think exercise is proven very solidly to be a good thing but I don't have to overdo it.  In fact, my kids and my exercise are good, up to a point.  A moving point, to be sure, but not an endless good.  Not as exciting as a cartoon superhero but far more useful is a picture of me, my family and friends, and life as it unfolds that is moderate: some wonders, some goods, some lovable flaws and quirks and maybe even some shocking bits.  You know, like the time, as a ten year old, I stole an eraser from a store and later, when I hid a comic book inside another and only paid for one.  That's as far as I am going with these revelations, in the name of moderation.

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