Moderation in All Things

Why is it that so many of us often go to such extremes in life? I don’t think it is our intent, but we often cannot find a moderate, middle ground, especially for those of us who have rather addictive personalities. Whether it is in collecting, video gaming, politics, food, alcohol, hobbies or whatever else it may be, we often find that  we are drawn to the extremes.
When I was younger, my mother always warned me about my extreme, “black-and-white” thinking. At the time, I liked to think of myself more as a passionate, goal-oriented individual. However, even with good things, there is a tipping point where it becomes too much. As I have gotten older, however, I started to see how my “passion and drive” would often amount to taking things too personally, becoming too obsessed, or simply not seeing, or be willing to see, middle ground.
I now can see exactly what my mother was talking about. I can also see how I allowed myself to think in “extremes” about most everything in life. Now, fortunately, I am learning to master much of that, and while it will be a continual process for the rest of my life, I can see the wisdom in the phrase, “live with moderation in all things.”
Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, “If” explores the maturity that comes from living moderately.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

–Rudyard Kipling



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