Long, long ago in a freshman philosophy class at the University of Washington I was introduced to Plato’s concept of the Golden Mean. Surprisingly that became one of the great “Aha” moments of my life. Surprisingly because I was notorious in my family for my uncontrollable temper, not for an even temperament. At times I despised my boring, mundane life, longed for the dramatic life that so many favorite authors and poets had lived.
Nevertheless when I read that part of Plato’s The Republic, I knew that it was an absolute Truth and that it would become a guiding principle of my life — which is not to say that I instantly lived up to that standard. I like to think that it helped me to avoid some of the excesses of my generation, but serving in the Army, particularly in Vietnam, tended to lead to excesses, not restraint.
I’ve definitely mellowed over the years, not least of all because of those experiences in Vietnam. At 76, I’ve learned that there is always going to be more than enough suffering in the world, that bad will follow good, just as surely as good will follow bad. I’ve learned to look for good things even in the worst of times and not to allow the bad things to block the good moments out.
For the last month or so, one of the good things has been Lael’s high school swim team. After years of struggling at sports, Lael found her niche in swimming almost as if a gene had passed directly from my father to her. Throughout the season Lael has managed to improve her best time in every race she’s been in. As a freshman she qualified for Districts in all the events she could.
The competition got much tougher at Districts, but she improved her times both days of the event while managing to have a good time even while waiting for her events.
Though she was worried that she wouldn’t qualify for the second day of Districts when the field was cut in half, she again qualified for all of her events,
though we had to wait for the last event of the day, a relay, to see her get to the podium.
She didn’t qualify for the State Tournament but did go as an “Alternate” for her school’s Relay Team. I’ll have to admit she exceeded my expectations. Though neither of the schools I taught at had swim teams, freshmen seldom made it to Varsity in other sports, much less to Districts in individual events.