A secular version of the Parable of the Talents

Our time on earth is finite; we know that we shall perish. How are we to best spend our days? How to use our gifts?

On the one hand, we could believe that all our words and deeds do not amount to much since these will be erased with the passing of time. Hence, we could spend our time doing nothing. Yet if we do nothing, then we have squandered our gifts.

On the other hand, we could believe that all possible deeds we could perform must be performed so that nothing is left unperformed. Hence, we would be bound to do everything within our power. Yet if we seek to do everything within our power, then we will become arrogant, our aims self-defeating, never fully realized. We will have exhausted ourselves existentially.

My philosophical friend who posed this dilemma solved it thusly: ‘By doing just enough each day of what matters with the proper care and in the proper way.’ Parsing:

1.) Cognition: The thing said or done must matter.

2.) Justice: The thing is said or done in proper measure.

3.) Concentration: The thing is given proper care, i.e., the right kind of attention.

4.) Kalon: The thing is to be undertaken in an excellent, beautiful way.

Therefore, we do not do everything (the epic hero) or nothing (the wastrel). We do enough of the right things and we do each of them well. This is called abundance.