Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Awake, O Sleeper. Or, Doing the Stuff We Need to Do

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was looking through some old memos on the Centro and found a record of exercises recording in October. What I lifted, how much, how many reps and so forth. I was depressed. It was about the same, maybe even a little more than I did last week.

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with high cholesterol during a routine check-up. Since then I've been exercising at the Y a couple of times a week...for a while, then life or illness or Summertime gets in the way and I stop. Since October I took a few weeks off during Advent/Christmas. Then another three weeks off when I got costochronditis (inflammation of the cartilage in the sternum). Sometimes I just don't feel like going. When the kids don't have to get up early for school, I don't get up in time to workout.

Now I know I need to exercise. It helped the cholesterol level. I also enjoy it. I feel good doing it and feel better all day having hit the gym. But I don't do it as often as I need to, and obviously I'm not making much progress in building strength. Was gibt?

Last November I wrote a novel--well, a novella. It wasn't very good, but I enjoyed writing it. It was something that I have wanted to do since I was a boy. I remember working on an epic fantasy novel when I was in sixth grade, scribbling in a spiral notebook in the darkened classroom while we were supposed to be watching Gandhi. (Why were we watching that movie in 6th grade??) I wrote about 300 words back then.

The next step for my "completed" novel was supposed to be revising. Or starting a second one. Immediately. I've written about 3 or 4000 words since December 1. That's it.

Why don't we do what we want to do? Why don't we do what we're supposed to do? Why do we shrug off that which is good and beneficial? In part, we're undisciplined. We have those wish-dreams of accomplishments they never quite get to. We struggle through to achieve, to make it where we are and grow tired.

In part, we live lives asleep at the wheel. We do what we have to, what we've programmed ourselves to do, what we've always done and then retreat and do the same tomorrow. We think in the past and in the future but never in the now, the moment. Our prayers are halting and irregular, our fasting time is nearly over, our love follows the lay of the land, taking the path of least resistance. If life is comfortable, we cuddle up and settle in.

It's for our salvation when we realize it. Like a lucid dream we see our true condition and our need for salvation in the midst of our need. If I cannot even do the small things like I want, how can I do what is truly good? How can I love the unlovable when I have not the strength to do the smallest things?

There are tips and tricks to awaken ourselves in this life, to meet our goals: the Life Plan; Personal and Family Goals; GTD and Lifehacking; Covey. The "secular" tips and tricks can work, and work well for those who can muster the discipline to keep them going.

But it is a spiritual problem. Everything is when you get down to it. And spiritual problems--acedie, sloth, ennui, whatever you want to call it, demand spiritual solutions: the Sacraments and using the weapons of the spirit: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.


  1. William Weedon said...

    Good points. AND sometimes a good spiritual discipline is not doing the stuff that we don't need to do. A friend and I were talking this over at lunch today: way too often we let our desire to be in control dominate and take up anxieties and tasks that really aren't ours. We have the stuff we need to do; and yet we fiddle with a bunch of stuff that isn't ours and doesn't need our attention. Go figure.

  2. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    Again, if you want a reader for your story, I would gladly oblige.