“You should stop and smell the roses,” they admonish. Stop working, building and accumulating and enjoy fruits from that labor and the gifts of God. While I get the point, finding the balance continues to flummox me. Doesn’t it often seem like we trying to drink from a fire hydrant – the water is either absent or raging. Taking a tiny sip requires distance and perspective. Drink too close to the source and it’s going to hurt. We constantly struggle with the choices we’re forced to make between family, work, charity, spirituality and even ourselves. Perhaps this affliction of the modern age is of minor consequence. When one is starving or fearful of wild animals, priorities become very clear-cut. But in a world that fully meets basic needs, we have choice. And that freedom invites moral hazard.
Work too much and family suffers. Work too little and they suffer in different ways. Spend too little time in reflection and our soul can lose its mooring. Yet if workers produce, and correspondingly consume, too little, jobs would vanish for lack of demand, governments would fail for lack of taxes, charities would close for lack of support and tens of millions would suffer and die. In short: If we all smell the roses, who is planting, tending and preserving them? Absent care, how long can we expect them to flourish?
Perhaps we simply align along lines of our natural ability. Some seek constant engagement while others prefer a more relaxed schedule. Even in the same household, one child may be eager to study and make their bed while her sister is equally eager to avoid work focusing instead on less productive pursuits. Does this bias stem from culture or genetics? Is one approach morally superior? Is there greater failure in over-work or underachievement?