Middle Ground
From The Wayfarer on the Open Road
Ralph Waldo Trine


12.  To know that it is the middle ground that brings pleasure and satisfaction, and that excesses have to be paid for ofttimes with heavy and sometimes with frightful costs.

ALL things, good in themselves, are for use and enjoyment; but all things must be rightly used in order that there may be full and lasting enjoyment.  A law written into the very fibre of human life, so to speak, is to the effect that excesses, the abuse of anything good in itself, will end disastrously, so that one's pleasures and enjoyments will have to be gathered up for repairs, or perchance his shattered mind or body also, and in case of the latter then the former will have to bide their time or wait indefinitely for their resumption.

Wise indeed is he who fully recognizes this law that never has and that never will allow itself to be violated or undone, but that will shatter, sometimes with telling and open blows, more often perhaps with blows subtle and guarded, but just as telling, the happiness or even the mind and the body of the one who would do violence to or who would fail to recognize its mandate— Moderation.

On the other hand, to see evil in things good in themselves is the perversion of another law that carries with it its own peculiar penalty.  The one tends to make the prig, the self-righteous, out of a good, wholesome man or woman, the same as the other makes eventually the voluptuary.

The one errs in the one direction the same as the other in another direction.  Each pays the penalty for his folly, the one by cutting himself off from much innocent and valuable God intended enjoyment, at the same time casting a continual shadow over the lives of others; the other by way of settling heavy bills of costs for his excesses.

It should be then neither license nor perverted use on the one hand, nor asceticism or priggishness on the other—the full use of all normal and natural functions, faculties, and powers, innocent and good in themselves, that all may be brought to their fullest growth and development, but never excessive or perverted use.

The tendency of the great majority, especially in our present-day American life, is on the side of the too serious, the too busy, the too absorbing in the business, in the work.  This induces all unconsciously, in time, a prevailing type of thought and mental activity that takes, so to speak, the buoyancy, the elasticity out of both mind and body, so that age and its accompanying features manifest, assert, and fix themselves in many, or to speak more truly, in the majority of cases, long before their time.  By way of balance, by way of disarming these, we need more of the play element, more of the open air, the sunshine, the exercise element in our lives.  It would save thousands from stiffening of joints and muscles, hardened arteries, dyspepsia, apoplexy, nerve exhaustion, melancholia, premature age, premature death.

''Happy recreation has a very subtle influence upon one's ability, which is emphasized and heightened and multiplied by it.  How our courage is braced up, our determination, our ambition, our whole outlook on life changed by it!  There seems to be a subtle fluid from humor and fun which penetrates the entire being, bathes all the mental faculties, and washes out the brain-ash and debris from exhausted cerebrum and muscles. . . . A joyful, happy, fun-loving environment develops powers, resources, and possibilities which would remain latent in a cold, dull, repressing atmosphere."

Look where we will, in or out and around us, we will find that it is the middle ground—neither poverty nor excessive riches, good wholesome use without license, a turning into the bye-ways along the main road where innocent and healthy God-sent and God-intended pleasures and enjoyments are to be found; but never getting far enough away to lose sight of the road itself. The middle ground it is that the wise man or woman plants foot upon.

Motivational Classics, Volume 1.  Great classics from James Allen, Emerson, Thoreau, Trine, Wilcox, and Marden, all in one volume.  You'll also find inspirational poetry from Wordsworth, Longfellow, Frost, Dickinson, and Browning.


The Amish love the Sunshine and Shadow quilt pattern.  It shows
two sides--the dark and light, spirit and form--and the challenge of
bringing the two into a larger unity.  It's not a choice between
extremes:  conformity or freedom, discipline or imagination,
acceptance or doubt, humility or a raging ego.  It's a
balancing act that includes opposites.

Sue Bender


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