Too-to-One Odds

It’s been said you can’t be too rich or too thin, usually by people who were or longed to be. But as we’ve seen in well-rubbernecked stories about hapless lottery winners and death by anorexia, you can be both.

Extremes in general are dangerous things, but terribly tempting. And so many of us give in. A walk down the street confirms gluttony as the front runner of the Seven Deadlies, at least in the U.S. A local drive will sooner or later run you up against spikes in the rancor index. Take in a Little League baseball game, and you’re likely to see a brand of extreme parenting you’ll never want to see again.

John Forbes Nash, Jr., the 1994 Nobel laureate in economics, came to understand the mathematics of love.

John Forbes Nash, Jr., the 1994 Nobel laureate in economics, came to understand the mathematics of love.

Are there things you can’t do too much of? There must be. But busy as we all are trying not to get into extreme debt, some of them may have passed us by. I’m here to help. As a public service, below is a list of extreme things you cannot be:

  • Too kind. How could an excess of this hurt anyone? Except you, that is, because very kind people tend to get taken advantage of. Nonetheless, they keep on doing it. Maybe it’s not just for themselves that they…oh, yeah. Seriously, what did the Dalai Lama say? “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Big hitter, the Lama.
  • Too smart. I’ve been getting this one since third grade. If I were really too smart, I’d have some idea what it means. How can there be too much of the ability to reason and recall useful facts? If you have it and don’t need it, that’s better than the other way around. In any event, the fear of being too smart is illusory, and no excuse for slacking on education or informal learning.
  • Too strong. You don’t hear this one too often, because most people aren’t. As for whether it’s better to have and not need, etc., see entry for Too Smart.
  • Too nice. This is different than too kind. Too nice means either 1) concerned about people around you to the extent that you avoid confrontation with them, even if to do so is to your detriment, or 2) when said by 23-year-old impossibly hot women, boring. I heard it plenty from 23-year-old women when it was relevant. Or irrelevant. I don’t know, and I’m too nice to fight with you about it. I heard it later from a professional associate who meant no harm, but essentially was saying that I wasn’t mean enough to advance in the cutthroat world of business. I got over it. Who needs more conflict?
  • Too prepared. In my performing life, I never understood the term “over-rehearsed.” I’m about to sing in public; there is no way I can prepare enough. Yes, you can rehearse until you’re bored or tired, but that has nothing to do with preparation. Professionally, the more prepared I was for a television broadcast, the better it went. It was a better work-reward system than being too nice to impossibly hot 23-your-old women.
  • Too attentive. What’s better than a committed listener? I can’t see how anyone could listen too well, especially in this age of distracti–…look, could you just…must you multi-task NOW? PUT DOWN THE PHONE AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE BLOG!

The last one, I won’t even kid about. I don’t think it’s possible to love too much. Oh, I hear about people who empty themselves in the pursuit of a love object who does not love them, who essentially erase themselves. But that’s obsession, not love — although sadly, a damaging obsession sometimes attaches itself to love like a parasite.

But love itself is a divine thing, available to us in unlimited supply as long as we’re willing to also give it. It’s said that in his declining years, his health failing, St. Paul was able to say only five words: “My children, love one another.” And he did say them, often.

Remember the end of the movie A Beautiful Mind? John Forbes Nash, Jr., the brilliant but troubled mathematician played by Russell Crowe, accepts the Nobel Prize and says in his speech (while looking at his long-suffering wife, who stayed with him during his years of schizophrenia), “It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found.”*

Too much? It can’t be. Go ahead, risk it. If it gets too much, we’ll let you know.♦

* The quote is attributed to Nash, but likely was not said in a speech. It’s not traditional for Nobel laureates to make a speech when they accept their awards. The scene in the movie was a Hollywood invention. No less meaningful for all that.

© 2013 Adam Barr

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2 thoughts on “Too-to-One Odds

  1. k8efitz says:

    “So he says,…..’On your deathbed you will receive total enlightenment.’….So I got that goin for me” – LOVE 🙂

    Additionally, I will agree with you about these things not necessarily being bad – but in all areas we naturally seek balance. Those that are doing TOO much of any one thing are lacking in another area….as you mentioned – too much kindness can lead to being taken advantage of (boy have I had this happen to me more often than not). It is within these acts that if we choose to do TOO MUCH of any one thing, we should alternatively seek the balance to bring us back to center….at least, I feel like the Lama would say that 🙂

    • adambarr1106 says:

      The Lama would agree. So we got that goin’ for us. Which is nice.

      No question, balance is the key. But so many people have deficits in the kindness/smart/love areas that it’ll be awhile before we gave to worry about them getting out of kilter…ha.

      Not you and me, of course….;-)

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