Proverbs 31: 6-7, Ecclesiastes 2: 1, Proverbs 10: 4, John 5: 6
Yesterday, as thunderstorms rolled across our little corner of the world, DH unplugged everything electronic worth over twenty dollars (that we paid for ourselves, anyway, the appliances belong to the apartment, and are on their own) and then left for work. So throughout the morning, I was home with no TV, no DVD, and no WiFi. Every time I thought it was safe to plug everything back in, I'd hear another rumble. It was just me and my book, all morning.
Two years ago for Lent I gave up a certain favorite snack (Not chocolate-I'm not crazy!) and this year I gave up video games. I have not returned to either of them yet. (Last year I did not give up anything for Lent, so I'm three for three!)
But giving up video games did not automatically make me a better person. I was no more accomplished or disciplined at the end of Lent than at the beginning. No, it soon became apparent that my laptop would take up every moment that the consoles once occupied. Since I was not playing games, I was on the internets, reading semi-educational and backhandedly affirming websites. (Cracked.com and Scarymommy.com, respectively and specifically.) And as blissful as yesterday morning was, with my book and my tea and the rain pattering outside my window, I could just as easily have written up my blog post for today and had it ready for the moment the storms passed. (John Irving's In One Person is frustratingly good, and will be available to the public on May 8, 2012.)
I have written before about my lack of personal discipline, and not to beat a dead horse, but I think this will be one of those life-long battles. The kind you never get to win. The kind you even deliberately lose once in a while, because sometimes the men are more valuable than the hill.
We all have crutches. I'm not sure life is worth living, or even possible to live, without the glass of wine to relax with in the evening, the favorite TV show every week, the burger and chocolate shake during PMS, Angry Birds while waiting in line, or whatever it is you and I do to hold back the overwhelming, paralyzing tide of stress, aggravation and/or pain in our lives.
Crutches can be good, as long as they are used moderately and wisely, right? Sure, as long as you're not trying to change anything in your life. If you are happy in your status quo, good for you. Have your glass of wine and think nothing of it. But for someone like me, who is always discontented, always complaining about something or other, perfectly legitimate crutches can become dangerous traps. If I can bury myself in distractions, I will do it, even at the expense of the hustle and initiative I need to show in order to solve all these problems I think I have. Use the laptop to write something, and I've exorcized a demon, flexed my creative muscles, and taken one step closer to the bestseller lists. Or, I can Fark.com the day away.
But the more I know about this issue I have, the better, and more realistic, I feel about having it. Socrates was right when he intoned: "Know Thyself!" The more fully I understand them, the better I feel about my problems, and myself. Knowledge is power, or it feels like it anyway, and I feel empowered seeing myself for who I truly am, if only for a Lenten glimpse.
After all, I could have just made an excuse, let the moment pass, and not written a post. But here I am, trying to be better, trying to make up for myself, still trying to exorcise this demon. Let's just hope I don't get too proud of myself for it.