mercredi, avril 05, 2006

Just say no...or yes

Fast approaching the end of the Lenten season, I realized that I had almost run out of time to make a Lenten sacrifice. My solution? Simple. If I can somehow avoid thinking about this little problem for the next week, Lent will be over and I won't have to worry about it again until next year.

Does anybody understand the mystery of will-power? Is it possible to explain how some people are able to make life-changing decisions in a dramatic and absolute way, while others make them by increments, and others never do? Last weekend, I had a conversation with a friend who is a heavy smoker. She has often struggled to give up the habit. She succeeds for a month, or two months, and then something prompts her to pick up a pack once more. Currently, the cigarettes are winning.

I walked away from that conversation thinking of how ineffectual I felt in counseling her. I'm often stymied by what to say to people in grip of an addiction because I'm not sure I have the intestinal fortitude to say no to much of anything. Ask my dentist.

Meringues for breakfast. Chocolate chips at bedtime. Online discount designer outlets know me on a first name basis. And let's not talk about putting off until next week what I should I have done last week.

Even my so-called "virtues" are driven by some inner compulsion. Take running, for instance. I've been running for enough years to be extremely, perhaps overly sensitive, to my body's internal spiritual and external physical state. From at the moment I step out of the car and put that inordinately expensive sneaker on the tarmac, I'm taking inventory. Am I mentally exhausted by the long drive home and the sad news on NPR and the prospect of finishing reading that 300 page book on Benedictine spirituality for a review that is due tomorrow? Poor baby. How's that prima donna lower spine today, Elizabeth? Sure you are up for this? As I dip into my trunk for headphones and gloves (once the temperature goes into the 70's for a week I will feel totally secure in ditching the gloves) I check that tight hamstring muscle, and hope its going to hold out for five miles. After this tiresome catechism designed to make sure I'm running from choice and not because it's good for me, it's really easier to get moving. Truly, it is.

I don't have a diet, doctrine or discipline. If it weren't for grace and disposition, I'd be in a real pickle. But I'm guessing that there are many of you out in the cyberworld who have made the decision to turn your back on self-destructive habits, and have not looked back. On the positive side of the ledger, there are also many of you who have taken on another discipline, whether it be volunteering at a local school or refraining from gossip, and have accomplished much. Have you given up booze or babes, gambling or hypocrisy (for at least a week)? We want to hear from you.

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