Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Good Day, Bad Day

It doesn’t take much to convince me a day will be good.

If I sleep all the way through the night until my alarm goes off; if the newspaper has been delivered to my front porch rather than the bushes; if the blankets I use to keep warm in savasana at the end of yoga practice have been folded the way I like; a few things like this and I’m whistling all morning long.

But conversely, it’s pretty easy to tip things the other way. If I can’t find my keys as I head out the door; if someone else’s yoga mat in the storage basket has crushed mine, putting a kink into it; if there’s not enough soy milk left for my granola; a few of these and pretty soon, I’m grumbling from dawn until dusk

My observation about this (apart from embarrassment over my own pettiness) is to note how tenuous—and even arbitrary—is my emotional state. Contentment and frustration are nearly evenly balanced; all it takes is a featherweight added to one side or the other to tip the scales that way.

Moreover, it’s clear that what sets me off in either a positive or negative direction is entirely mundane; what would I do if something really good or really bad happened? If I won the lottery, would my head explode? If I had another bike stolen, would my heart literally break?

Aristotle famously conceived of virtue as a mean between two vices, one of deficiency and one of excess. So courage, for example, is the proper point between cowardice and foolhardiness. But there are some virtues, like honesty, for instance, where the mean is more of an ideal; being honest isn’t, after all, to lie half the time.

So maybe I shouldn’t be straddling the line between good and bad days like this; maybe it should take at least knocking over the coffee pot—before my first cup—to ruin the morning.


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