There is a lot of ancient wisdom we can benefit from as parents and try to pass onto our children. But these two inscriptions at the Oracle of Delphi stand out:
Nothing in excess
As Michael Schur wrote to his own two children in the book we have been recommending, How To Be Perfect, “as far as ‘guides to life go,’ I don’t think anyone’s beaten that in the 2,400 years since. Know thyself—think about who you are, check in with yourself when you do things to see if you’ve made good decisions, remember what you value and care about, understand your integrity, and live a life consistent with that integrity. *Nothing in excess—*because too much (or too little) of anything will screw you up…Somewhere in the middle of every kind of virtue you can have and every thing you do, there’s a perfect amount of that thing, and your job is to find it.”
Parents aren’t supposed to encourage their kids to get tattoos but Schur isn’t wrong when he describes those maxims as “a guide so pithy you can have it tattooed on your arm with plenty of room to spare.”
In any case, we need to tattoo these ideas in their minds. Because they are the guides to the good life, in the ancient world and today, in childhood and adulthood.
You can pick up a copy of How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question at Ryan’s bookshop The Painted Porch and support indie retail by picking it up online too!