Mother’s Motto

 Mother’s Motto

By Sean McVeigh

We do not get to choose our family. Through thick and thin, they are ours and we are theirs. With that being said, I guess the only real option is to try and help them to become good, decent people. The kind of people that will not only survive in this crazy world of ours but thrive in it. How is something like that accomplished? The way I see it, it’s through guidance. Mistakes made; mistakes learned from. We all have free will, so all one can really do, I suppose, is point in the right direction.

Have you ever had an experience that as soon as it happened, you wished you could jump right back into a time machine and do it all over again? Yeah, me neither… Why is it that it’s always too late that you realize you should’ve been listening to the people around you the whole time?

My parents have always had good advice. If I were a wise man, that advice probably would have been heeded more frequently. One of my mom’s favorite phrases, more of a maxim, that she would drop on us just before we left the house was simply “moderation.” Like any good son, I would listen to the words of wisdom with ears wide open. Too open perhaps. And in one ear it would go and then right out the other. Why are kids such jerks?

She is not the first to preach this, of course. Some of the greats have been lending the same counsel for thousands of years. One of my favorite versions of this is “all things in moderation, including moderation.” The quote has been attributed to many different people over the years: Socrates, Ben Franklin, Oscar Wilde. These are not simple minds. These are some of the most enlightened to have ever walked the Earth. Who would I be to not pay attention to them?

Moderation is not a problem solver, but a problem preventer. You would never be in this hypothetical situation if you had just practiced the virtue from the beginning. But, as we know, in hindsight things appear much more lucid.

Too much of anything is not going to be good. We live in an age where excess is the norm in all aspects of life. A little self-control, a little discipline, can go a long, long way. Moderation is the perfect advice because it is not discouraging you from participating in whatever you are talking about. Go ahead, have your fun. Just be reasonable. Just avoid being extreme. Are extremes ever a good thing? In politics, weather, sports — extreme is usually not my cup of tea.

Our friend Socrates, who we mentioned before, may have lived almost 2,500 years ago, but this guy knew what he was talking about. Another quote of his that I think can tie this all together is, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Sometimes people are not as smart, wise and all-knowing as they think, especially in their formative years. This realization is usually not stumbled upon gently. It is usually smashed over your head whether you like it or not. But that’s life. The important part is what you then do with this new enlightenment moving forward that really matters in the long run.

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