Last weekend, I was taking the night tram back to my flat, dozy after a long discussion on traveling, the terror of virtual reality and cults with two good friends. The tram was quiet and dark, slowly slinking up the slushy hill towards home. But on the TV hanging from the ceiling in the center of the tram, an international competition of what is sure to be the world’s most terrifying sport pried my drooping eyelids wide open.
Ice cross, which basically entails skating (along with flipping, falling, and dancing with death) down a steep, iced-over hill, isn’t exactly one of those sports that sends one to sleep. In fact, I think it’s far more likely to prompt a hardcore atheist to pray to God for the lives of insane strangers with a death wish. (To any ice cross athletes out there, I admire your courage, but what is wrong with you!!)
The televised recap of this bonkers sport was just one of several reminders this week that we are, without a doubt, a culture of extremes.
For the endorphin-addicted, adrenaline-dependents, there’s extreme fitness and sports like ice cross. For the closed-minded, dangerously opinionated, there’s the highly-polarized politics of today’s world. And for the greatly naive, there’s thousands of cults looking for new members. Extremes are extremely common nowadays. The word itself is extremely overused (hehehe).
We love to promote this slippery mode of living in everyday conversations, suggesting you’ll either “love it or hate it” when we introduce our friends to new food or music. When sugar cravings become unbearable, we might make death threats (I would kill for some ice cream right now) and if we finally do get our hands on that killer ice cream, we might even make an unbreakable vow: “It’s to die for.”
But cliches alone do not create tangible extremes, actions do, and alarmingly, acting on extremes is something humans love to do.
Talented rock stars like Stevie Nicks burnt a hole in her nose from snorting copious amounts of cocaine. Young daredevils with beautiful families risk particularly nasty deaths in front of cameras so they can appease their insatiable hankering for adrenaline or simply look insanely cool. And politicians take the bait of their extreme counterparts, going so far in the opposite direction of what they deem to be wrong and unjust that the diplomatic among us no longer have a political representative to advocate for the middle ground.
Wall or no wall? Political trash talk or silence? Is there no spectrum in matters of national interest or the preservation of humanity?
The scary thing about extremes is they rarely respond to moderate solutions. A body and career dependent on hard drugs will crash and burn before it heals. A nation run by a government teaming with such hatred, thrown into a battle where every soldier in the army is fighting for a different cause, will literally shut down before the land of the free either learns to love thy neighbor or stroke the divisive ego of their leader.
And when it comes to ice cross, I must admit that a small part of me does think it’s cool. Padded skaters flying in the air, spinning around turns like leaded ballerinas is a marvel for the eyes. But when the tram ride ends and I find myself scanning through the news, the more dangerous reality of extreme living hits and the search for a solution becomes desperate.
And the extremely scary question remains: Is there a way to make moderate cool again? Has it always been a word associated with the mundane and static or in the search for absolute truth, perfection and amazement, have we completed decimated the middle ground, mocked the idea of compromise and squelched any possibility of changing the world for the better?
Live in moderation (extremely important sign off here)