Every vice is only an exaggeration of a necessary and virtuous function. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, 1836
As most everyone else, I have many vices. It depends on who you ask as to which one gets mentioned. As long as I can remember I’ve gotten in trouble for talking too much. It was probably written on every report card I ever got and discussed at every parent/teacher conference ever held about me. At one such conference in elementary school, the group of teachers met with the parents, in this case my mother, and discussed the student which was me. Apparently one of them started in on how I would never shut my mouth. Another teacher who happened to be my father’s cousin piped up and said, “The child can’t help it. It’s hereditary.” My mother knew it was useless to even try to get me to pipe down. I blame it not only on the fact that it was a curse from my father, but in being the youngest of six kids. No one EVER listened to me. They all had much more important things going on in their lives. So I just got louder and more obnoxious, and they still ignored me. I tried interrupting conversations; they still overrode me. It have spent many years trying to retrain my mouth. I am sorry to admit I have not yet been successful.
According to my husband, my vice is that when I am accusing him of something or just plain complaining about something, I “always” use the term “always”. You always leave the top off of the toothpaste. You always leave the kitchen cabinets open. You always forget your keys. You always spend too much time on the computer. You always buy the brand you like. You always pick the biggest piece for yourself. You always choose the movie. I really don’t “always” do this. I only say always if he “always” does those things. Maybe there are just a lot of things he “always” does.
I am not the best or the most comfortable driver. And I am a worse passenger. It’s not that I don’t trust the person driving my car…I just don’t trust the people driving the cars near us! I don’t like the loss of control I feel as a passenger. I tend to white knuckle the hand strap above the window, push the nonexistent brakes on my side, or brace my hand against the roof. Yes, I know none of these things produce any results other than the annoyance of the driver. I try really hard to refrain from doing these things, yet I catch myself time after time. Old habits are hard to break.
Though I know fully well that it is wrong, I still make assumptions about people’s motives for certain actions. Though I hate being judged and even catch myself judging others, I still do it. I even apologize to who I am talking to about it and continue, as if that makes it right. You know it fits right in there with gossip. You know it’s kind of like we think that it’s our family and it is true then it’s not really gossip. But if someone else that wasn’t family said it then it would be considered gossip. Seems to be accurate reasoning when trying to stomp out the guilt over it. But none the less, it doesn’t make it right.
I am a flawed person. I am human. I make mistakes. I hope that if I don’t catch them that someone I know will set me straight. It might embarrass me or hurt my feelings at first. But I am better off in the long run if I am called out. Fortunately, I have family and friends who love me regardless of my shortcomings.
Sometimes, vices really aren’t character flaws. They make us interesting and quirky. They stamp us with individuality. They make us shine. They make us stand out. Just as virtues, they make us who we are.
Living Out Loud, Volume 22: Name Your Vice