Every Virtue Has a Vice (and vice-versa)

Saving is a virtue; being stingy is a vice.

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash – @blankerwahnsinn

Look, I know there are times you feel ineffective, or lazy. There are times you binge on netflix while you should be working, or you eat cereal at the end of the day and don’t stop. Or is that just me?

Maybe you drink too much. Maybe you’re rude to strangers. Rude to friends. You don’t make enough money. You focus only on money. You focus only on your art. You’ve lost your life to fantasy.

So what.

Seriously. So what?

I read (and write) so much shit about the evils of distraction, about doing more, getting focused, getting healthy, firing on all cylinders, eating kale and avoiding sugar, and I like it. Most of it. It kind of expands my brain a bit.

Until it doesn’t. And then it just makes me feel bad about myself. Like, everybody is drinking green smoothies for lunch and if you’re not, you’re just a loser and get with the times.

But you’re not a loser. I mean, you might be, but I’m not. I feel like one, though, a lot. Most of the time, really. But where was I going with this?

The point is, everything comes with a tradeoff:

  • If you save, you’re stingy.
  • If you’re generous, you’re bad with money.
  • If you live for the moment, you’re not thinking of the future.
  • If you’re planning for the future, you have trouble living for now.

Shall I go on?

  • If you prioritize exercise every, single morning (or anything else for that matter on a routine), you’re ignoring the joy of spontaneity.
  • If you roll with the punches, you’re being passive.
  • If you work to be assertive, you risk being controlling.

It’s all contextual, they say.

It’s enough to keep you from tying to put your energy anywhere. But then you’re giving into fear and simply being lazy.

You’ll hear Jack Welch, the famous former CEO of GE talk about how family is the most important thing, and he realizes that now that he’s retired and has more money than God.

For 40 years he got to be rich and powerful; he got to build organizations; he got to feel like he was the shit. And, he was. Jack Welch was the shit.

His personal life suffered, but he didn’t give a fork because he had what he really wanted.

And now, he gets to look back on life and say, “family first, buddies.”

Only, had he actually believed any of that, he would have never been able to devote the time required to run one of the world’s largest and most successful companies.

I don’t know. Some dudes just go through life, focusing on their careers, and it never actually quite comes together for them.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, don’t worry about what you think is holding you back. Don’t try to fix what you think is wrong with you. Or do, if you like that. But don’t assume that those people who are talking about how great their life is aren’t simply sweeping a forked up existence under the rug.

“Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other.” – Emerson: Self Reliance

Pretend for a moment that your life right now is exactly what you’d wanted. That, given all the things out of your control, this is the best you could have been. Depressing in some ways, no? But there is a streak of magic, there. Run with that. Perhaps a little self-appreciation will get you out of your own way and looking at the pretty side of the coin we’re all handed.

Truth is, it doesn’t much matter which coin you have. Turn it to the side you prefer, focus on that, and keep doing what brings a little light to your life. Alright, you light junkie? Cool.