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Anything in excess | Letter

There is exquisite pleasure in fixing your eyes on half-opened flowers and in drinking only to a half-tipsy state. Full flowering and total intoxication will surely lead to self-loathing. People whose plates are full should ponder this deeply. “Vegetable Roots Discourse, Caigentan,” by Hong Zicheng, 2006, book II, verse 123.

If one is good, two is better. The more pleasure you derive from something the harder it is to restrain yourself from over-indulging. Many of us will continue to eat steak or sushi, even if it causes us to acquire a stomachache. Many of us will drink one more beer, even if it causes us to acquire a headache the next day. On the other hand, most of us will not struggle too much when it comes to eating too many peas or Brussels sprout. We all have things we love to eat or activities we love to do that cause this danger of excess to be real for each and every one of us.

Sometimes in life it is clear where the tipping point is between just enough and too much, but usually the line between just enough and too much is blurry at best. Even if it is clear what the tipping point may be, sometimes we consciously decide to go past the tipping point and suffer the consequences later that day, the next day or sometimes even further down the road.

This is what makes life interesting. Each person has to find and try to maintain balance in their lives. Each of us has our vices. What activities and foods make your life better?

Every once and a while it is good to look at your own life and try to assess if you are doing anything in excess and whether it makes sense for you to stop doing that. Even things you love to eat or activities you love to do can be bad for you in excess.

Bryn Peterson

Mercer Island