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August 6, 2005

I have an unhealthy obsession with paradoxes.

Here’s one: “Moderation in everything.”  Do you see it?  Whenever you apply an idea to EVERYTHING, you are taking it to the extreme.  Moderation in everything is extreme moderation.

BrussEuro’s recently told an amazing story about his brother, who is living a full and successful life, by anyone’s account, through an excellent balance of emotion and reason.  His story built a bridge between two extremes–my standpoint advocating reason, and Bizzolt’s advocating emotion–to show the necessity of a balance.

Here’s the thing, though: you can’t avoid extremes.  Galen, the brother in the story, exhibited some extremes of his own.  He spent six hours a day, every day, for an entire summer, playing the saxophone.  That sounds to me like an extreme passion for the instrument, one that BrussEuro couldn’t even imagine having.  Likewise, there’s a certain amount of balance in things that appear to be extreme.  My life of reason is my way of achieving a balance of disposition, rather than being constantly happy or constantly sad.

The point is, what’s extreme is open to interpretation.  You could say that since I got the same score in each of my AP tests, I’ve achieved a balance in my studies, never putting too much focus in one area.  And what’s more, if we’re talking about being extreme, I would say my essay was the least extreme of the three.  Because I was the only one who acknowledged that there was some validity to the opposing viewpoints.

It’s all well and good for Galen to live the life he’s living, because he has passion and impulse.  However, there was a key element missing in the story.  Where was the heart-wrenching break-up after a two-year relationship?  Where was the bout with a mental disorder that he had to overcome?  Where was the death, or abuse, or, I don’t know, just SOME kind of trauma that he had to deal with?  You told a story about a guy who apparently never had anything go wrong in his life, just kept going with his passion and impulse, until he reached a level of well-being that would be the envy of any person on earth.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.  I felt it was a fascinating, and yes, inspiring story, and it would be all the more so if this element, which played a role in your argument but somehow didn’t make it into the story, were added.

And it’s also all well and good for you to support that lifestyle, since you were able to live by his example all your life.

How about me?  I’ve never been passionate or impulsive about anything.  The closest I’ve really come is liking video games, and that’s mostly because my cousins and sister love them so much.  And even with video games, there is no way I could spend an entire summer just playing them six hours a day.  As a result, I’m really not as much a video game buff as I lead some people to believe.  Outside of my choice few Nintendo games, I’ve hardly played anything more than a few hours.  And even some of those games that I own, I haven’t beaten yet.  I’m no Smash Bros. master, and it takes me hours to solve the simplest Zelda dungeon.  I’ve got a record that would make most video game enthusiasts laugh.

I’ve never gotten a craving for something.  I don’t even know what the word means.  Either you’re hungry or you’re not, right?  It doesn’t matter if it’s meat, or cheese, or chocolate, or whatever, just give me some food.  I’ve never been so absorbed by a book that I just had to read it marathon-style in a couple days; I only did so with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince so I would be able to discuss it with all of the others who would surely be bursting to talk about it.  I’ve never felt so antsy that I just HAD to go for a run.  I don’t listen to music that much, any kind of music.  I don’t do much of anything that involves passion or impulse.  I absorb the passions and impulses of those around me.  I’m not proud of it, but as I told you on the bus that day in France, Damon, what the heck do you expect me to do about it?  I can’t just force myself to feel like doing something!  You never did give me a real answer.  Just said something like, “Well, as long as you’re aware of it.”

I’m also aware that the experience I do have with feeling has been negative, as I have already stated.  It made my life horrible in middle school.  And don’t give me that “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” crap.  I did not come out of that experience feeling any better off for it.  I just felt like I’d wasted a year or two of my life.  Moreover, depression is not something you just leave alone for a while and wait for it to go away so you can live a fuller life.  It’s there constantly.  There are people who have it that go on having it for years, even decades.  Some are never able to go on living their lives normally.  I am determined not to be one of those people who wallow in their misery.

So it’s just great for Galen to go with his balance, and it’s fine for David to go with his emotions.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this discussion, it’s that different things work for different people.  Letting my emotion decide my actions doesn’t work for me.  I wish it did, and I’m glad it works for some people, but I tried it, and it wasn’t for me.  It’s not that I’m not playing the game.  We’re all playing the game here on earth, whether we like it or not.  What matters is how we play the hand we’re dealt, and I have done that to the best of my ability.  So when you suggest that your extra half-year of experience has allowed you to discern the correct path of life, forgive me if I say you are indeed arrogant.  You said it yourself, that you could never live your brother’s life, it’s just not in you.  Well, it’s just not in me to live your life of moderation.

There are always stories about people with mid-life crises, but you never hear the story about the guy who really did like his work, so passionately that his life was fulfilled by that and only that.  I’m sure, somewhere in six billion people, that example exists.  I don’t think I could live that kind of life, and I never said I was going to.  You were the ones who equated a logical person with a hard-working AP student.  Living by reason, for me, just means deciding what I want out of life, and then being able to get it, without nervousness, anger, sadness, or any other emotion getting in the way.  Like Galen did.  Only I have to work without passion, without impulse.  And I’m fine with that.  I have to be.  I wouldn’t get anywhere if I wasn’t.


From → Uncategorized

  1. Where is “anywhere?” If by anywhere you mean success as dictated by American standards, then maybe you’re right. But going by their standards is sort of the same thing as trying to live a life that’s not your own.Anyway, I’m not a very emotional person, but I am relative to the caricature of you on this xanga. Read my comment on BrussEuro if you want; I was sort of just being emotional to ilicit emotion, so to speak.Also, if you’re still up, you should go on AIM or something… there’s a healthy night crowd.

  2. Anywhere means just that.  I wouldn’t be successful by anyone’s standards, I’d probably just sit around all day waiting for an impulse that never comes to take hold of me.  Well, who knows, maybe some people live a fulfilling life sitting around all day.  But I get the impression that you have to have SOME kind of direction in this life to be fulfilled.

  3. And I wish I could tell you this was a caricature.  Really, what I put forth here is very close to the actual me.  If that makes me any less interesting to you, then… well, that sucks.
    I only have MSN and Yahoo at the moment, but I may get AIM.

  4. You can read my full response on my Xanga 😐

  5. I pulled the “big picture” card, booya end of discussion. Well, at least it’s the end for me… Read my comment on Bruss’s Xanga so you can decide just how much of a cop-out it was. πŸ™‚

  6. So….I’m not going to get involved, just wanted to say hi!  I love the way you write. So I don’t know if this link will work but this is a really cute picture of us:    -best of luck next year! (not that you need it)

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