You learn a lot of things in law school. Like, that your liver is stronger than you think it is, for example. Or that people who always raise their hands and speak out in class aren’t actually that smart….. they’re just d**che-bags. But by far the most important thing you learn, is how to mince words.
Actually- it’s broader than that. What law school really imparts its victims with is an unhealthy obsession with semantics, generally. I get why this is important, since as a lawyer, being anally retentive about
everything definitions and interpretation is a necessary part of your job….but for me, it’s grown bigger than that. I frequently find myself distracted in conversations by someone’s use of a certain word or expression, for example, and end up getting lost down a rabbit hole of interpretation. Writing has become a laborious task, what with all of those tricky synonyms to choose between….and sometimes, I just get hung up on a certain word or phrase, and think about it entirely too much. Most recently, this has been the word “moderation”.
See, the Holidays for me (as I’m sure for many others) were a period of excess. Drinking, eating and spending too much; exercising, working and saving too little. So once January hit, it seemed like the right time to start introducing a little more “moderation” into my life.
And why not? This “Moderation” thing is frequently trumpeted as the key to success at basically everything in life: Have treats in moderation! A little stress is good for you- but not too much. Wine is good for your heart! – in moderation. (Damnit).
I mean, it makes sense- lessening my teetotaling/almond-croissant eating ways, and giving my credit card a break from being worked like a hooker in the red light district do seem like objectively good ideas… but as January progressed, and my days became filled with less gluttony, excess and fun and more steel-cut oats, lunch packing and lacing up my gym shoes, one idea kept pervading my thoughts:
WTF Is Moderation anyway??
Moderation is something I struggle with not only in practice, but also in theory. But why? You might ask. It’s such an innocent, neutral little word… the Switzerland of words, even… It’s not saying yes; it’s not saying no- it’s saying: Do what you want and I’m staying the hell out of it… just as long as you don’t do anything “extreme”.
But that, my friends, is precisely the problem. Despite what I may have led you to believe with all of my
alcoholism and obsessive tendencies hilarious antics, I consider myself to be quite a structured and goal-oriented individual. I thrive on order and routine, and like concrete, achievable targets; with measurable benchmarks along the way.
This word is none of those things. It offers you no direction, and defies any kind of useful definition whatsoever.. all you can say is that it is “the act of eliminating or lessening extremes”. And what does that leave you? A big, fat grey area, that’s what.
Now, while some may feel comfort in the freedom and flexibility this provides, I instead look at it as a deep black hole of nuances and uncertainty that I’m left to perpetually reel through for all of eternity.
Too dramatic? I don’t care. This grey area brings me nothing but heartache and self-doubt. I find myself thinking: I’ve been to the gym 4 times this week…would that be considered a “moderate” amount? If i order pizza twice this week, is that venturing into “extreme” territory? Is buying one new piece of clothing each week spending “moderately”??…. and what if I buy it at H&M as opposed to Club Monaco? does that change things? (is the criteria determined on a per-item or cost-per-unit basis here people.. I need to know)
It’s gotten to the point where even the word itself makes me simultaneously angry and panicked. Sure, I act all calm, and comforted when I hear someone say “you can still have cupcakes on a diet…in moderation” but on the inside, my blood pressure is rising, and panic is pulsating through my veins as my inner voice is screaming “BUT HOW MANY CUPCAKES IS THAT ACTUALLY??????????????????”
I’m starting to believe that this whole “moderation” business is a bullsh*t concept invented in concert by the health, fitness and financial professions, so they can throw it into any situation they don’t actually know the answer to, while at the same time keeping us dependent on them.
I picture a secret society composed of Dr. Oz; Bob Harper; Dr. Phil and Suzy Orman (and, let’s be honest, maybe Paula Deen) in hooded capes, sitting around a big roundtable, saying things like: “Hmmm we don’t actually know how much wine it will take to kill your last braincell (answer: several bottles ago, when chased with 3 seasons of Keeping up with the Kardashians), so let’s just go with ‘drink it in moderation’… that’ll keep them drunk and happy until all their livers start failing and they need a liver-disease friendly diet and workout program and a 12 step debt repayment plan for their astronomical hospital bills… muahahahaha”.
And that shit is simply not ok.
So since I’ve decided that moderation is something I
can’t achieve fundamentally don’t believe in it, I’m considering just adopting this little token of wisdom from my homeboy Oscar Wilde as my new life motto:
Question of the Day: Do you believe in moderation?
** Edited to add: right before publishing this, I realized that one of today’s Freshly Pressed posts is called “All things in Moderation“. Noted. I will accordingly retitle this one: “how not to get freshly pressed”.