I know I usually try to talk about broader culture here, but it’s my birthday today, so I figure I might as well get a bit personal. Not, like, “neighborly” personal though; that’s creepy. More like, “guy who’s friends with your friends and bumps into you every-so-often” personal. Yeah, that’s better.
As you might know, I’m an Atheist. However, unlike many of my peers, I don’t advocate being an Atheist. It’s basically just what makes sense to me, and only me, at the moment. That said, I wasn’t always an Atheist. I grew up in a not-really-practicing-but-still-pretty-much-Catholic household with parents who had other things to tend to than go to church. Actually, I kinda thought Christianity was about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus for a long time, but, then again, that’s when I paid the most attention. (Presents and candy are good motivators.) Obviously I eventually realized that that was NOT the case and that there were some serious things backing those Holidays up; Jesus was not just a glorified life coach, he lead people to do and be good by his actions. He set an example of righteousness & goodness so great, that whole cultures have adopted Him as an honorary member years after His Death. That’s an impact.
That was all very important information to me, but I STILL really liked those presents!
Easter was a tough holiday compared to Christmas. Not only were the rewards on a smaller scale, you also had to give up stuff! For like, a month and a half! That’s hard for a kid to get the hang of, particularly when what you give up is something you enjoy. For a long time I used to give up popcorn. I LOVE popcorn. Not just a little. I could eat popcorn every day, and would if it didn’t lacerate my mouth the way it does. But popcorn was much easier to give up than my next Lenten casualty. By a TON.
I may have spent 30,000 hours of my life by playing video games. Giving that kind of an addiction a month-and-change-long break is really tough. I was an avid Pokemon Master, Civilization Builder, Titan Killer and World Saver. I played tons of games for thousands of hours and I loved them. And I grew up playing them. I think that if I had to give something up, this would be a close second. Mostly because it IS still a close second.
‘Cause I still do Lent.
Yep, Lent and I have gone through some interesting times, times that made me realize not just how good practicing self control is, but also that giving up things you enjoy that aren’t bad for you, is LESS profitable than giving up bad stuff you do. Which is why at 12:01 am Wednesday, February 13th I will be giving up cursing, as well as typing the phrases “lol” “meh” and “heh” until Easter.
That may sound innocuous, but I assure you it isn’t. It’s extremely difficult considering how often I use all of those words, particularly in stressful situations. I always wind up breaking Lent, but I make sure to keep track of how often I fail. To “remind” myself I say 5 Hail Mary’s per infraction each time I break it, that means if I failed 3 times to keep my 0 cursing vow, the next time I slip I have to say 20 Hail Mary’s. Again, you think that’s nothing, right? My fourth year (This is my 6th) I finished Lent at 140 Hail Mary’s. That takes a LONG time to say, particularly if you’re out of practice. And if I lose count, I start it back at 0.
Yeah, not fun.
But it actually is. I get a ton out of this yearly ritual, no longer in terms of presents or candy, but in the way I feel when talking to people. I enjoy the fact that I don’t have jump into the gutter if I don’t want to, something that I forget all too often during the rest of the year.
That’s something to appreciate, it’s why I do it, and why I think you guys should try to give something bad up for Lent too, regardless of whatever religion or non religion you follow.
Fuck those guys.
Image Credit: trulia.com/blog/chrisneddersen