AMHERST, Mass. (U-WIRE) - We were all sitting around watching The American President when our host (OK, the girl whose room we invaded; still, in a way she was our host) announced that she intends on becoming president of the United States someday.
Of course, being conditioned as an English major, my first thought was, "Can you get me a nice easy cabinet job?" Well, she said she'd think about it, and the conversation eventually turned to other things, leaving me thinking.
Anyone can become president (ignoring the age limit and an outdated must-be-a-citizen rule). But anyone can just as easily become a burnt-out crack head. Anyone can appear on Jeopardy!, and anyone can appear (with their face digitally changed) on Cops. Anyone can? Well, you get the point. Anyone can become anything.
So what determines where we end up? Is there some cosmic wheel that assigns us the random events that make up our lives? Is there really a God up there planning everyone's life out to the point that it is pre-determined whether or not someone will drink decaf vs. regular or eat Lucky Charms instead of Fruit Loops? Why do I keep asking these questions?
Granted, that one is easy: I needed an extra paragraph and really wanted to include a reference to God and Lucky Charms in the same sentence. Anyway, back to what might turn into an actual point: we are all dropped on this Earth and forced to deal with life as it comes. Since I can't figure out the who, what, where, why, and how we are dealt life, I might as well try to explain what might be the best way to deal with it.
Thousands of years have been spent by people greater than I working on this very problem, so I ain't promising much with my solution. Still, it seems to hit a little more than it misses, so it's worth a shot. My miracle solution (you can forget the drum roll) is that, when dealing with life, we must try to avoid extremes. This is simply because extremes are unhealthy. If they weren't, they wouldn't be known as "extremes."
For example (not that any students can relate to this) going out and getting smashed, trashed, drunk or otherwise messed up tends to be an extreme behavior. Of course, not being able to enjoy life is an equally extreme behavior. One does its damage physically, the other mentally, but neither extreme is helpful in keeping a person working the way a person is meant to function.
Moderation may seem to be a silly banner to live under in a world where some people own more shoes then there are states in the union. In a place where people are encouraged to go to excess in their beliefs, tastes, and life in general, avoiding excess would appear to be as taboo as killing a baby seal. Moderation, in reality, does make sense. The moderate person tends to avoid ridiculous arguments, especially when it comes to politics.
And moderates are easier to get along with than those extremists so secure in their beliefs that they find themselves cramming what they think is "right" down the throats of all who they meet.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that we all need to pick our sins carefully, because life is notorious for tackling us with nasty curve balls and even nastier mixed metaphors. So take the middle road of moderation when you can, lest some day you wake up as a crack addict who could have been president. Or worse, a president who could have been a crack addict.
Collins is a columnist for the
University of Massachusetts