Everything in Moderation



Everything in Moderation


Jacob Schlitt


Alternate (revised?) version of "Everything in Moderation" (2013-04-30)













I don’t know when I first heard that piece of advice, but I grabbed onto it as if it were the Word of God, and I passed it on to my children. If you want to be happy, and live a life with a minimum of disappointment, I kept telling them, make sure you do everything in moderation. Everything! Eating, drinking, sleeping, working, playing. Whatever it is you do, do it in moderation.

The other piece of advice I shared with them was about food. Some vegetables are to be eaten raw, some vegetables are to be eaten cooked, and a few vegetables may be eaten raw or cooked. Then, there are vegetables, like peppers, that shouldn’t be eaten at all, raw or cooked. I am afraid my kids never took that advice. They eat all kinds of weird stuff.

Back to moderation: I really was sure that was the way to live one’s life. If you concentrated on one thing, you would miss out on other things. Also, as part of moderation, you should be well rounded. Listen to all kinds of music; familiarize yourself with all kinds of sports; but in moderation. Another application of moderation relates to not overdoing. You like food? Don’t eat too much. You don’t like food? Don’t eat too little. Whatever it is you do, don’t overdo, and don’t underdo.

And if you ever gamble, gamble in moderation. I am not a gambler, nor, as far as I know, are any of my children. However, if I am near a casino, or am walking past a store selling scratch tickets, I am tempted to try my luck. I have even gone to the track a few times. There are lots of stories of compulsive gamblers. That is not me. In a casino, I will set a limit, usually $20, and see how long it will last. If there is a cheap blackjack table, I will try that, along with the slot machines. If I am still playing after an hour, I feel as if I had my money’s worth of entertainment. I win a few pots, I feel good. On the rare occasion that I come out ahead, I feel great, But I never go overboard. I never exceed my limit, though I am sometimes tempted, especially hearing all those jackpot bells.

I am aware that if you do “everything in moderation” you will never get that ecstatic, over the top feeling that comes with winning the jackpot, or triumphing at anything. When I worked for the laundry workers union, I knew a worker who would go to his neighborhood bar on Friday night and blow his entire paycheck. He drank, and bought drinks for his friends, and felt like a king, and everybody loved him, but at the end of the evening, he was dead drunk and had no money left. However, for a while, he was on top of the world. I suspect those of us who do everything in moderation will never feel a high like that. Nor will we ever feel as low the day after--with a hangover, or as broke.

Then I thought about people who excel at whatever it is they do: Sports, art, music, writing. If they approached those activities with moderation, they would never excel. They would be moderately good athletes, artists, musicians, writers. If you want to be the best at whatever it is you do, you have to devote everything you have to achieving.

I guess the same applies to innovation or science. Someone said that success consists of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. You don’t perspire in moderation. Nor do you become an Andrew Carnegie or a Thomas Edison or a Bill Gates by doing whatever it is you are driven to do, in moderation. But a lot of driven “wannabes” ended up bankrupt. So is that the choice? Play it safe, or go all out? Maybe you shouldn’t do everything in moderation? I will have to rethink this one.


Original Format



Jacob Schlitt, “Everything in Moderation,” Autobiographical stories & other writing by Jacob Schlitt, accessed July 14, 2024, https://tsirlson.omeka.net/items/show/190.