Talk Less

Talk Less July 13, 2015

What am I renouncing?
What am I renouncing?

On the way to the airport, I realized that driving with Lewis and Hope made me the loud kid. They like to think, reflect, and use their inside the head voice. Like some Tour Guide Ken, I feel compelled to keep talking, because that is what I do.

Until I realize how very, very annoying this is.

A good thing about being married is that you learn that many skills can turn into vices if overused. The reasonable man can rationalize his errors. The spirited man can become so boisterous that he is obnoxious. Hope has a helpful trait of telling me, like Jesus facing a stormy sea: “Peace. Be still.”

This did not always help to calm the waters. “Why can’t I just be myself,” selfish me cried. “Because you are sometimes annoying,” my better self-retorted. Talking isn’t the only good thing that can go bad for me.

I want to understand and get to the bottom of everything. This trait has a good side: the unexamined life is not worth living, but it has a bad side: the overly examined life is neurotic. Sometimes Hope reminds me, I should live and not talk about living. I should enjoy the moment and not think about the moment.

This is annoying until it is not.

The good thing about enduring in a relationship, marriage, friendship, work, is that you must moderate your skills and turn them into virtues. Plato did this with Homer’s word for “excellence.” In Homer, it was not much more than “skills.” (“That kid Achilles has wild skills . . . sword skills, running skills, verbal skills.) Plato saw that being good at something, even being good at things that are normally good for humanity (such as thinking), is not enough. We need morality to go with our skills. Plato changed the word for “excellence” to make it mean what we would call “virtue.”

Being good “at” is not enough if I am not doing good in the right place, in the right way, at the right time. Hospitality is good, but we have all met the hostess with the mostess . . . who can drive us all mad with her perfection. The party stops being fun it is so fun.

“How funny your husband is,” someone will say to Hope and she will agree. But I know that living with a jester is a mixed bag. There is a time for madcap and a time for quiet time. This is another way of saying that most actions (even ones normally good like love) require the guiding light of moderation. Too much or too little is not good . . . we need to be just right.

And that includes blogging: enough for today.


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