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Divine Excess



A man knocking on the door of a brothel is knocking for God.

G. K. Chesterton





I am a man of excesses.

What Aristotle calls the golden mean has proven to be the moving target that it is. It's not like I always fall short of it, being too cautious or underestimating it. Most of the time, I overshoot it. I tend to think that by stretching the bow too much, forcing all my weight on it, that the arrow that travels far will hit the invisible target. Yet I always miss that aesthetic and Archimedean point. Moderation is not one of my best traits.

It's not that I do not try. But this business of trial and error sometimes gets to me. Your eyes squint, frustration colors your face, the hands quake at the thought of having to do it over and again. This is why the Philosopher says that virtue is accomplished by repeated exercise, that one swallow does not make summer. But why is it that I fail repeatedly? Why do I always fall on the wrong side of the world, on the pole of blinding excess under the deafening sun? I always get burned because I overplay my guard, trying to shadow him under my cover, but always missing receiving the ball as he undercuts me, getting what I thought was mine. I am always too much and too soon, too stubborn and too impatient.

Yet these passions that only a man who wastes himself to the lavishness of the world always intoxicate me. What is worth doing is worth doing badly. I drink from this overflowing cup until I could no longer breathe.

The problem of addiction is the problem of knowing the difference between what is enough and what is too much. Different people have different capacities. But of course, that misses the point. That fine line between what is right and what is wrong never does remain invisible for the man who wishes to know. But to transgress that line is to willfully cross it as if it was never there. And this is the decision that one makes, leaving caution behind to a reckless pursuit of what captivates our desires and wets the appetites. I know that I am going overboard yet nothing is happening to me. I want more, I want it all. So I play the game of testing the limits, to see how far it goes and, upon reaching it, stand there and stay for a while. It is as exhilarating as it is dangerous. I am flying.

They say that you resort to such addictions because you either feel numb or ecstatic. That it is a way of self-medication, a way of treating a divided soul or a castaway heart. Some would also find out that it is already beyond their control as the body and its dependencies take over one's wanting or willing. Others would just say there are some bad habits that are hard to break. But I do not feel or understand such explanations when I'm blowing smoke rings from this cigarette, drinking my sixth beer in a frosted mug and losing myself to the pleasures of the body. And I cannot force myself into believing something I do not feel.

What I do feel is that these excesses give me a glimpse of what it is to transgress my limits and have a brief taste of the infinite. I can only believe in a god who is pure excess. This is the god before whom one can dance and sing. To fall short of that would be human, and to exceed it divine.



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