More or Less

In which the alleged wisdom of the Orient collides with the pickiness of Isabel.

Unencumbered by handles, the tea cylinder is still too hot to lift, so I nudge it carefully, turning it to see what it says. Ah. Ten Ways to Good Health, with a clear flavour of the Orient:

Less Alcohol, More Tea

Less Meat, More Vegetables

Less Salt, More Vinegar

Less Sugar, More Fruit

Less Eating, More Chewing

Less Words, More Action

Less Greed, More Giving

Less Worry, More Sleep

Less Driving, More Walking

Less Anger, More Laughter

Not “rules” for good health, mind you, but “ways” to it. And not out-and-out prohibitions — No booze! No white death! — but merely gentle suggestions for a mid-course correction. How far you take it is up to you. Interesting. Sort of a Less Guilt, More Encouragement approach.

Sitting at our new favourite Japanese restaurant, I wonder whether this laid-back style of advice giving is typical in Japan. Pondering that, I lean back absent-mindedly and then sit up straight in full mindfulness as the bolt-upright rattan back digs into my back. If this chair is interested in 10 Ways to Good Comfort, it could start by pursuing Less Hardness, More Slopeness, not that “hardness” and “slopeness” are opposites, exactly.

As I scan the list again, I see that it suffers from the same problem, if problem it be. Only one of these Ways positions what I would call “opposites”Less Greed, More Giving — and the editor in my head wants to know why that isn’t Less Taking, More Giving. But the other supposedly singleton Ways each require two changes. Don’t just drink less booze: drink more tea too. (I guess Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi, my mainstay, won’t do.) Don’t just worry less: sleep more too. (I guess it isn’t enough to be serene: you also have to be out-and-out unconscious.)

So that’s really 19 Ways to Good Health, isn’t it? I mean, surely it’s good to walk more, even if you don’t drive less; or to eat more vegetables, even if you don’t eat less meat. Isn’t it? This seemingly simple encouragement is getting pretty complicated.

I wonder whether it would be OK if I did Less Worry and More Laughter together. Or Less Anger and More Sleep. I feel those pairings might work better for me. And if it’s all the same to the owner of this list, I’d really rather do either Fewer Words or Less Talk: Less Words just doesn’t scan for me.

Maybe we each need our own list, tailored to our Ways. In that case, I’m guessing that the first entry on mine should be Less Pickiness, More Acceptance of Fuzziness.

And maybe we need a list that speaks to the Ways of our current society. I think I’m ready to propose something for such a list, in a Less Picky, More Accepting sort of Way: Less Irrational Belief that Someone Else Has This All Figured Out, More Confidence in Our Own Common Sense.

Our order arrives just in time to save me from going totally totally down the rabbit hole. Yes. Less Thinking, More Eating. Now there’s a Way I can get behind — or is that two Ways? Never mind. Anyone see the salt?


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10 Responses to More or Less

  1. Ralph Gibson says:


  2. Marion says:

    Less Salt, More Spice

  3. Jim taylor says:

    Less flagellation, more chocolate?


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Always More Chocolate, no matter what has to go to make room for it (even something as attractive as self-flagellation).

  4. Very funny post, Isabel. You’ve got me thinking about Less and More now —
    Less Internet Surfing, More Swimming?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Less Interloping, More Gardening? Although I understand that some can do both at the same time…

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