I Give Up

Posted on March 5, 2014 under Storytelling with no comments yet




Every once in a while we need to shake things up, to find something to snap us out of our lethargy.  A new beginning or a fresh start.  We may be unhappy with how we look and feel.  We may have developed some bad habits that we would like to reverse or eliminate.  Sometimes it’s an attitude adjustment that is in order.   At least that’s what the Ivany report on the Nova Scotian economy is saying.

I am a strong proponent of setting goals, writing them down and monitoring them.  The best way I have found to do this is with something called “The 30 Day Challenge”.  You determine the behaviour to be modified, like reducing your alcohol intake by half, and then chart your progress for thirty days, keeping a daily log using a blank calendar page.  I’ll drink to that.

If you are a Catholic, you can take this one step further and take the 40 day challenge known as Lent.  For those of you not familiar with this tradition, it is a call to action for the forty days leading up to Easter.  One of the hallmarks of Lent is that it is a time of denying yourself one or more of life’s pleasures.  It is a time of fasting and abstinence.

Our parents’ generation didn’t have a lot of things to give up.  In our home town, not listening to “Scottish strings” on Friendly 58 for forty days would be a real hardship.  Some of us young whipper snappers would swear off listening to fiddle music during Lent … hardly difficult when we couldn’t stand hearing it in the first place.  Now, as adults, we can’t get enough of it.

When I was a child, it was a no brainer.  Almost invariably we were expected to give up sweets during Lent.  In our house, that was like asking us to live without water or oxygen.  We were a horde of sugar craving fanatics.   And heaven forbid that you cheat on your promise, for then you had to deal with your parents first, followed by confessing your weakness to a priest, along with all of your other transgressions.

And when Easter Sunday finally arrived and you could legitimately “come off the wagon”, you ate so many chocolate Easter eggs that you never wanted to eat sweets again … until the next day.

Another Lenten abstention that we had great difficulty with was the promise of being nice to our siblings.  No name calling, no snide remarks, no comments about appearances.  You know, all those things that brothers and sisters do to each other with impunity when they’re young.  I am sad to say that this particular promise had no chance of success.  Forget about being nice for forty days and forty nights.  The period of civility often lasted less than forty minutes, especially when you had to do dishes with an annoying sibling.

When we got older we gave up booze and smokes during Lent and even tried to avoid cursing, with varying degrees of success.

Many of our young people today march to their own drummer when it comes to religion, so the notion of fasting during Lent is as foreign to them as a rotary dial phone.  This is not to suggest that they aren’t spiritual.  They are building churches of their own.

What would today’s youth do if pressed into Lenten service?

How about giving up social media for forty days in a row?  Or for four hours per day?  Or for forty minutes each hour?

Stop the presses.  Are you serious?  Do you expect a young person to put down his smart phone and iPad?  Do you have the audacity to suggest that our youth forego Facebook and Twitter?   Just like giving up candy in the sixties, there would certainly be benefits, spiritual and otherwise.  They don’t have to call it Lent.

Lent, then and now.  Would it have been harder to take a pass on Scottish Strings back in the day, or social media in modern times?

I’m not sure.

I give up.

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