James C. Banks

Advice of a Superfluous Man

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm

You may have noticed that I have not been blogging much recently; in case you are not aware of the reason, I have been busy celebrating Easter and my birthday for the past week or so; arduous tasks which have prevented me from getting too close to my computer.  At one year shy of being a quarter-century old, I cannot attest to have gained disproportionate wisdom since the Spring of 1987, though I have had opportunities and adventures that many people have not been able to experience.

I don’t really have any advice that couldn’t be given better by someone else, but, were I to recommend a few things to keep in mind, these would be they:

Love God and do as you will:

This truism originates with St. Augustine. I appreciate it as a reminder that, for all the worries about living according to one legalistic standard or another, these two adages hit a balance of grace and freedom.

Mediocrity is not actually THAT bad:

As a Virginian suburbanite, I hate suburban life as much as the next human being, but anyone who lives a suburban existence should be grateful that he/she is there rather than, say, the Gulag Archipelago circa 1958.  More importantly, it is an individual’s domestic life—e.g. being a loyal spouse or good parent—which really makes him/her an individual. Are you a graduate of Harvard Business School’s class of ’09? Congratulations; there are five hundred others who are too. Some of these graduates will be CEO’s, some Senior Vice Presidents and other mid-level executives. All of this has some value, in that it can pay for a more peaceful domestic existence (See next point), but if the latter is not where your emphasis is, than you’re working awful hard to leave your money to your alma mater or the New York Symphony Orchestra.

It’s not material, but materialism, which is evil

God appears to appreciate material things; otherwise He would not have seen that they were good. And material things are there to be enjoyed. I’m partial to both books and beer, but I don’t think that one is more valuable than the other. Excess of the former is more conducive to attaining maturity, but, if both are just viewed as ends in themselves—rather than vessels for fostering wisdom and enjoyment—both will end up making you delirious.

Sleep matters

Either take a nap or sleep-in on Saturdays. It is at such moments that you come to realize what a privilege it is to exercise liberty in a free society.

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