I have a friend whose enthusiasm knows no moderation! For example his take on garlic is, “Too much… is just enough!” As garlic goes so does the rest of his life! Whatever catches his interest he delves into as deeply as his circumstances will allow. Often when I feel irresponsibility’s siren-call for me to do less than I am capable what bubbles up in my mind is his motto, “Too much is just enough!”
The easy way out is setting the bar to less than we are capable of and eventually that less-demanding-way of living becomes our new norm! When the next effort from us is called for then the temptation is to lower the bar again and to just get by. Slowly through increments of lowered effort we settle for mediocrity until the day arrives where any effort at excellence seems beyond our capability! Take our culture’s emphasis on meal preparation not requiring much time! Supermarkets are a-swim with frozen meals, instant meals, dried meals, preserved meals! The basic premise of all of them is that with a cup of water or a minute in the microwave you can have a delicious meal which requires no more effort than pushing a button! Why do we think this is a good thing? Because so many settle for pre-packaged foods they no longer know what a freshly prepared meal ought to taste like! Nor are they awake to the fact that what they are eating is chemical garbage!
When I was in the monastery four of us brothers were appointed to do the cooking which meant that every fourth day I was the chef. The Abbot insisted on absolute excellence in the meal preparation not only as an ascetic exercise for the cooks but also as a sacrament of deliciousness to rejuvenate people’s spirits after a hard day of work! We were not allowed to use anything already prepared which meant that we had to make a cake from scratch, had to learn how to correctly prepare ingredients used in the meal and how to present it in an appetizing way. After so many years of uncompromising cooking I have found that I approach other things in my day with that same expectation of excellence! As a result and to my astonishment I have become involved in professional artwork, daylily breeding, writing… all things which have required willingness to stretch beyond my sense of comfort. “Too much is just enough” is a good motto for us to take on as our own since embracing “the easy way out” poisons the soul, dispirits the heart and ultimately leaves us bewildered on Life’s trash heap!