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Staying Out of the Traps

In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

“To enjoy the full flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.” — Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

We all walk the line between being active producers and active consumers. As with everything, there’s a balance between the two to have a full life. The world, as it pleases, fills us up with things to do. We actively participate or we step off the production line and dance to our own beat, but we aren’t machines, and even the most productive among us need to consume to refuel and recharge.

Then again, we see plenty of examples of people over-consuming and not getting anything done in their lives. And surely in this world there’s plenty to consume: food, opinion, trivial pursuits, time. We ought to ask, when consumption is tipping the scales, “just where is this taking me?” But sometimes, as Elvis put it, we get caught in a trap we can’t walk out of. Surely, we must steer clear of the traps.

I think a lot about the two Heinlein quotes above. I’ve been saving them for some time now, thinking each would stand on their own in a blog post, but they also pair well together. Each highlights this wrestling match called living. We want to have clear purpose and a mission we believe in, for humans are meant to produce something of consequence in our brief time. And we want to be bold and see the world—making the most of this brief time with the sensory experiences that make life worth living in the first place.

The thing is, we know when things are in balance, just as we know when something is off. The absence of clear purpose makes us “a slave to the man”, as a friend puts it. Put another way, if we aren’t working on our own goals, someone else will gladly give us theirs to work on. We must actively pursue that which has meaning for us, and steadily move away from daily trivia.

What do we have an appetite for? Decide what to be and go be it. We tend to think small in our days, while forgetting what’s possible over a lifetime. Perhaps too many big bites will give us indigestion, but too few will leave us starving for more. As with everything, balance is the key, but don’t get caught in the trap of thinking small.

I recognize that this post featured a lot of paraphrased quotes. It was simply me processing each in real time. Thanks for sticking with me on this one. Go be it. I’ll work to do the same.

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  1. As usual, we’ll-stated, and your quotes ever so appropriate. Perhaps at risk of broadening your point beyond intentions, I think also of consuming precious physical resources. Many of us over-consume, thereby forever changing the world, especially for generations to come. More should consider where our energy comes from, and places where our waste ends up. There are finite amounts of each, as are minutes in our dwindling lifetimes.

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