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Archive for February, 2009

I figure the only way to deal with all the crap going on is to get it out.  I hesitate putting this out on “the interwebs” but whatever.  I just feel shitty.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as I am about to head to church, but good grief…this sucks.  It’s not physical though it certainly shows up with physical symptoms, but I just get so tired of scrutinizing every single aspect of myself.  I hold myself up to ridiculous standards, and instead of tackling anything, I shun everything.  I check out.  TV on, brain off.  If I am doomed to fail at everything, why try anything?  Blah, blah, blah…these are not new thoughts, but dang if I wish I could just “snap out of it.”  

Blarg.  Too personal? Probably.  Thank God for edit/delete buttons.

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I recently purchased a used book by Thomas Merton titled Contemplation in a World of Action.  This is a long quote from that book that jumped out at me last night while I was reading.

     “Also, though we still pay lip service to the old myth that what is good for the market is good for everybody, as a matter of fact the development of new products and the marketing of commodities has really little or nothing to do with man’s real good and his real needs.  The aim is not the good of man but higher profits.  Instead of production being for the sake of man, man exists for the sake of production.  Thus we live in a culture which, while proclaiming its humanism and pretending indeed to glorify man as never before, is really a systematic and almost cynical affront to man’s humanity.  Man is a consumer who exists in order to keep business going by consuming its products whether he wants them or not, needs them or not, likes them or not.  But in order to fulfill his role he must come to believe in it.  Hence his role as consumer takes the place of his identity (if any).  He is then reduced to a state of permanent nonentity and tutelage in which his more or less abstract presence in society is tolerated only if he conforms, remains a smoothly functioning automaton, an uncomplaining and anonymous element in the great reality of the market.”  -Thomas Merton.

I don’t really know if I have much to add to this statement other than a big, giant UGH.

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I miss the 90’s.

I’m watching some music videos by the Cranberries right now and am brought back to being a teenager in the 90’s.  The Cranberries are probably the most nostalgic band for me as far as making me remember those times.  I remember when I, like a lot of others, wore nothing but frayed jeans, flannel shirts, and Doc Martens.  (I still have my first pair of Doc’s and still wear them from time to time.)  I know I am the most nostalgic for those years simply because that’s when I was really coming to be the person I am today.  The Cranberries are sitting in Anne’s room talking about boys and eating massive amounts of pixie stix and recording ourselves being silly on a mini-tape recorder.  The Cranberries are me and Jenni talking on the phone for hours about basically nothing except well, boys, and how they would never love us.  The Cranberries are Jill, Jenni, Kelly and I road tripping to exotic locations like Lincoln, Nebraska just to go to Lazlo’s and that coffee shop with the “mex mocha.”  

The Cranberries ARE nostalgia to me, and I am so glad that I grew up in the 90’s, because dang if those years weren’t really really fun.  Oh, except that boys never liked me.

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So, about a month ago, I picked up a book called Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris.  She writes about the spiritual term “acedia” and spends the whole book defining it and its effect on her life.  It would probably take me an equal amount of space to do the same.  So I’ll give a short definition, and illuminate a major area of my life affected by this condition.

Acedia is hard to define.  Even Merriam Webster’s website does little to describe it.  They give synonyms of “apathy” and “boredom” underneath the word’s etymology, but no actual definition.  This may be why she took the whole book to define it.  In a few words, it’s a lot of things.  It’s spiritual apathy.  It’s the temptation not to care.  It’s torpor.  Norris says that at its Greek root, it means the absence of care.  It could be a refusal to care or an incapability to do so.  

Norris writes that acedia was a spiritual state that 4th century Christian monks (a.k.a. Desert Fathers) knew a lot about, and she quotes a monk by the name of Evagrius often throughout the book.  In fact, she realizes that acedia is a common spiritual theme that even crosses into different religions.  The Desert Fathers called it “The Noonday Demon” and though the term has a history of applying more to monks than the public at large, Norris shows how it manifests itself in her life.  

There were certain parts of this book where I was certain she had been secretly peeping through my windows to observe my day to day activities.  One of her observations is how acedia prevents us from realizing how important a routine is to our spiritual lives.  She says that acedia initially shows up as a “refusal of repetition.”  It shows up as not wanting to shampoo, bathe, take a daily walk, clean anything, take a multi-vitamin, etc.  

So I’ve written and talked about my knack for procrastination.  I always knew it had to be a little bit more than that.  I’ve gone on and on to myself and my husband and my friends about how I am the laziest human being that I know.  I don’t take pride in this, and yet I’m not sure how to change.  I realize the root of this problem is acedia.  I don’t value what doing the dishes every day might have to teach me.  I don’t value a clean home because I don’t value the idea of a routine.  There have been brief moments of my life where I had a routine, and if I remember correctly, they were some of the most spiritually gratifying times.  They also had a positive practical side, in that my kitchen was always clean, bed always made, clothes always washed and folded.  

Lately I have been craving a routine again.  Yes, me who is working two part-time jobs, going to school full-time, being married, and trying to maintain good friendships.  I figure somehow there has to be a way.  If I figure out a way to even have a small resemblance to a routine, I will write about it.  I have some ideas that I’m going to try out, but I’d rather just wait and see how they work out before being accountable to my four person audience right now. =) 

If you have time for reading, or perhaps even if you don’t, check out Acedia and Me if it sounds anything like something that would benefit you.  It’s definitely shown me that maybe what I’ve always deemed irreconcilable laziness might in fact be something else, a little larger and a little deeper.

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