Sunday, March 25, 2012

I See... Being Just Right


We live in a world of extremes. Bombs are getting bigger and borders are getting smaller. I can be fully informed on every detail of the Arab spring unfolding half a world away yet be totally ignorant of the neighborhood garage sale down the street.

Nowhere is the emphasis on extremes more extreme than in the vernacular we use to talk about each other. Decades ago, you could be “groovy” or a “straight arrow.” A pretty girl or handsome boy can be “really hot” or “really cool.” Lately I've heard that a lot of people being praised as being “sick;” and these are just the few labels I can remember. Being just barely beyond 50, I don't travel much in hipster circles that tend to naturally propagate the most popular phrases, so I'm sure that there are many more. Apparently, the thing to do is to do too much of one thing or not nearly enough of another; or, emulate too deeply certain personality characteristics or almost completely ignore other qualities. Extremes are definitely in vogue.

The catch-22 with all this is that when extremes become too popular, they are no longer extreme. Case in point is my YSA daughter's artificially auburn-tinted hair. I have to admit that it looks pretty cool. My father, however, would have made my sisters shave their head if they came home with that “extreme” color.

Furthermore, while society surrounding us promotes extremes, most of us possess innate desires to be... normal. To fit in. To be “just right.” Like Goldilocks visiting the Three Bears house, most of us yearn for our beds, chairs, and porridge to be just right, somewhere in the middle of the road.

We are supposed to reach for the stars, but I'm happy being just right.

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