“It is better to rise from life as from a banquet — neither thirsty nor drunken.”
This picturesque metaphor of life being a feast is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. While he lived over 2,000 years ago, its prescription of balance is still relevant in the fast-paced world of today.
With mass media, and a capitalist society in general, we are constantly coaxed to buy the newest car, house, or gizmo. We are bombarded with advertisements that “WE CAN HAVE IT ALL!!!” If we are not careful, our culture tends to make us become the drunken one at the banquet. At the same time, our culture celebrates hard workers and those that work a lot. This can be a noble task, but we can get drunk on this workaholic ethic.
In recent studies, it has been suggested that Americans now use how much they work as a status symbol. A person will indicate that they are constantly busy, and this is utilized to suggest that they are higher on the social pecking order. Compared to a study over 100 years ago, this is a complete flip. At the end of the 19th century, it was more common to brag about one’s leisure time to show status.The more leisure time one had, the more opulent the person appeared in the eyes of their peers. What we have now are overworked individuals and happiness that is just out of reach. Balance is the answer.
Even when the world has slightly slowed down with the coronavirus, the digital age can maintain the feverish pace of the modern world. Buy this, buy that. The tube of plenty is now your computer, television, and almost magical, smartphone.
To maintain balance, a list of priorities must be maintained. Work is essential to live but is not the end all. Spending time with loved ones, volunteering for your community, and building friendships are. These things make life worth living. It seems sometimes that we, as Americans and those in other industrialized nations, forget this. In my travels, other countries seem to have a better work-life balance. Work is important, but friendships carry greater weight in these nations. But we have the potential to be like them. So, when you are busy at work, do not forget what you are working towards. Working is not your life, it is just a part of it. The same goes for everything. Balance is what makes a good life. I invite you now to life’s banquet. May it be a filling and satisfying meal but take it easy on the drinking.
• James Durdan works on the family farm in Grand Ridge, and enjoys writing about history’s philosophers and how their enigmatic quotations relate to today’s world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.