by Barb Conlin
The Dichotomy of Living in Moderation or with Passion
My dad was and still is one of the biggest influences in my life; he passed in 2015, but his pearls of wisdom still direct me. One of his favorite lines was, “Everything in moderation.” It is a quote originating from ancient Greece and often attributed, sometimes in a slight variation, to Aristotle. Dad offered the quote often even if he, himself, didn’t live by it. He was an alcoholic, so the line was provided to us kids as part of a “do as I say not as I do” instruction set. He ruled my childhood home with a heavy hand and an even sharper tongue, and my brother and I understood. We weren’t expected to abstain from the bad, but we were expected to recognize certain things as indulgences that, when given attention at all, should be enjoyed sparingly. Dad realized if he, as a parent, marked anything as off-limits for us, it assured our constant attention. Moderation was a mantra, a boundary for us kids to stay within.
Moderation… I understand the concept even more as I age. I know to limit calories and sugars and carbs and alcohol and Cherry Coke Zero. Ugh. I don’t always do it – but I try. I have lost about 35 pounds since I retired in 2020. Dad’s words of wisdom have definitely impacted me along my journey to become healthier. It was sound advice then just as it is now.
Recently, I lost someone very special to me. My cousin Amanda. Her death, at 36, came as a shock to all of her family and friends. My Facebook tribute to her alluded to her as a conduit of family information, my once-upon-a-time country concert buddy, and one of the most beautiful souls on the planet. We shared a love of pretty dresses and purses, iced coffee, and Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Luke Bryan. And we commiserated over many stressful moments during Kentucky basketball games as she bled blue like me and most of my family do (a little more difficult for me in the land of crimson and cream).
As I reflected on her life and on the tributes made to her by so many whose lives she had touched, it became apparent to me that moderation was not Amanda’s mantra. Especially with her family, friends, and church, Amanda gave 110% – at least. She was all-in for family gatherings – planning, coordinating, and documenting all antics especially those of her younger cousins. She was always the cheerleader, mentor, and encourager of women in her faith. She was a lover of life and of her God. There were no boundaries to stay within with respect to her passion for life – she put it all out on the line each and every day.
As I thought about these two mantras, I noticed a potential dichotomy. Do we live life in moderation, or do we embrace life passionately? I say – we do both. I espouse moderation – for the things that can cause harm in our lives. However, I think, even then, we temper that. Self-discipline is good, but avoidance of all forms of indulgence or having a zero-tolerance policy for everything bad (Cherry Coke Zero for me) can create scenarios ripe for over-indulgence.
So moderation – in moderation.
As far as your passion, though, don’t just passively follow it. Live it. Breathe it in and exhale it with every ounce of energy you have. Let your passion direct all of your interactions with those you love – your family, your friends, your church, your god. Let it positively impact your work, your education, your art, your faith. Be an example of passion in practice. Let everyone around you see and feel your devotion, dedication, and spirit. In practice, tell your friends you love them – make it weird. Hug them – for an awkwardly long time. Laugh about it afterward. Don’t ever wait to text back or to call or to visit. If you feel it, do it!
So passion – without moderation!
And you may wonder why I offered this up now. #Amandaisthereason!
Now – Go Be You!