I heard that phrase again yesterday; all things in moderation. And then only a few hours later somebody mentioned in my hearing that she thought marathon runners were mad. It’s taking things to extremes, marathon running is. Running is one thing, but marathons!
I kept quiet, it wasn’t my conversation anyway. But it got me thinking.
Moderation would appear to be an accepted virtue. Drink in moderation (which means alcohol, of course, not water, which is another thought. Why does a drink mean alcohol and not, say, orange juice?) Eating in moderation seems to be another virtue. Just one piece of dark chocolate after dinner, folks. Anyone ever have any luck with that one, by the way? The list goes on. Don’t take things to extremes, be moderate, don’t get carried away.
Even the ancient Greeks and Romans were at it!
Never go to excess but let moderation be your guide. Cicero.
The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom. Aristotle.
I wonder what Steve Jobs would have had to say about that?
It seems to me that accepting moderation is similar to accepting mediocrity. Saying I run in moderation, means I don’t go out very often and when I do go, I don’t run that hard.
I have a friend. A happily married mum of 2 great school age kids, with a sporty husband. Although she had been involved in sports in her youth she had settled into the role of supporter of her husband, and would play with the kids while he went off and did his thing. Then one of the kids wanted to try ice skating so they all went along to a family session. Revelation! She had found her passion!
She is not at all moderate about this new found skill. She is good at it and knows it. She now, demonstrating more skill than most professional jugglers, manages her life around work, the kids, husbands sports and ice skating.
Moderation would mean attending a group class during the day when the kids are at school and maybe a public session with the family once a week. Passion is different. Passion means training, and cross-training. It means making sacrifices. And it means 4 medals at the Masters’ Games.
I have to admit to being conflicted though; to exercising judgement upon others; to believing my passion is different from your excess. Should we live in moderate or excessive houses? Should we drive moderate or excessive vehicles?
And I am not alone in my confliction. I found these two quotes, both from Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, and twice British Prime Minister.
Moderation is the centre wherein all philosophies, both human and divine meet.
Moderation has been called a virtue to limit the ambition of great men, and to console undistinguished people for their want of fortune and their lack of merit.
It seems that Disraeli could not make up his mind about moderation either!
And of course we can take our passions to excess. Yuppie flu or ME is often the unfortunate result of burning the candle at both ends. And my friend? She is recovering from pneumonia brought on by skating everyday, and generally wearing herself out by keeping all those coloured balls in the air at once.
Me? Err, I’m still running every day…..