Archive for April, 2011

Relent

For the first time in my life, I decided to brace for this year’s easter season by observing the tradition of Lent. I am not Catholic, but according to my understanding, Lent is the pre-Easter period during which adherents of the Christian faith remind themselves of the sacrifice of Christ by putting themselves in a situation that constantly requires spiritual intervention. I’m also sure there’s something in there about strength turning to weakness, etc.

Jokes aside, let it be known, and simply put, that I am a Christian… one who worships a God who appreciates a good laugh.

I ran into my first bit of difficulty before the season even commenced–I had to settle on something to give up. It couldn’t be an activity, because the hobbies I do have serve to discourage laziness. Not playing bass for 40 days would cause a regression in skill, etc. Food is typically the ideal, but that proved impractical as well because I’m really a moron when it comes to things like ingredients. I am not brave enough to do something as general as “meat.” And anything more specific that I may develop a genuine craving for is too easy to work around. No processed sugars? Switch to starch. No coffee? Chocolate. No pizza? Pasta! No Chipotle… huh, there’s a good Candidate for next year.

But really, I knew secretly all along that there was one particular vice of mine of which I could learn to let go. Nonessential to health, too specific to cheat, but too popular to merely work around. My sunshine in dark days, my push over the hill, and my Swiss-Army-duct-tape of productivity

Caffeine molecule

This guy

Now I could use this point to springboard into a lament of how terrible it was. But that would not be funny, nor particularly true. I quit consuming caffeine, and it was an interesting experience. And I did learn some things:

By the end of day three, I was certain that I did not, in fact, have an addiction. No headache, no undue irritability, no persistent longing. I did want energy drinks from time to time, especially on weekends, but it was more like having your car in the shop. I accepted that I just had to wait and tried to move on.

I was surprised to catch myself struggling to find workarounds. Did you know that Root Beer and Citrus-flavored soda’s contain no caffeine? I do now! I also know this–32 ounces of root beer moro than cancels out any health benefits you’d see by skipping a morning cup of coffee. This is about the closest I got to a spiritual experience… futile pursuit of something I wanted, but didn’t need, really reminded me of the direction-less uncertainty felt by not having a focus on the divine.

It is occurring to me now that the word “I” has been used far more times in this blog that I wanted, but that actually goes along well with the most important thing I learned: maybe it is a good focusing tool for some, but for me, Lent caused me to focus far too much on myself. Not surprising, as Lent is not biblical. I’m quite glad to have done it once, and it certainly did not hurt my faith or create a negative example for anyone else. But I don’t see what it did for the advancement of the Christian ideal.

To end on a humorous note, I’d like to point out that I totally did Lent wrong.

First off, I tried to start Lent on Fat Tuesday and not Ash Wednesday. That same day I got a legitimate headache, caffeine has helped me with those in the past. I only found out about my mistake after leaving work… after a day of unnecessary strain.

second, I didn’t find out until about three weeks in that most faiths do not observe Lent on Sundays. That frankly makes no sense to me… “Lenting” is several brief installments seems to encourage frantic overindulgence on days you can get away with it.

Finally, I wasn’t sure when to end it. Holy Thursday? Good Friday? Easter Sunday? Sundown before Easter, which is when days actually begin in the Jewish calendar? Either way I went well beyond the 40 days, and bungee jumped off the wagon on Good Friday. That was a seriously good Monster.

Hope you all had a Happy Easter.