Lent? What’s lent? I suppose I should deal with that question first. Easter’s over, and I did a thing for 40 days before Easter that I’d like to talk about. So what is Lent? According to the ‘pedia of Wiki:
“Lent (Latin: Quadragesima – English: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving,atonement and self-denial.”
There’s a lot more to it that you can read on the site; growing up with Roman Catholic upbringing meant that lent was a time when I denied myself something that I loved the most to prove my Love to God. As I grew older and decided that the church, and organized religion wasn’t for me, lent became more about maintaining moderation. As Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” I really think there’s something to that.
When I was younger1, I would give up chocolate. That was hard. I might even say it was harder than giving up drinking. I mean, I can drink a lot but I don’t *need* to drink a lot. I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking everyday, and that’s the very reason I’ve decided to give it up for lent in the first place, but I don’t need to do it everyday.
By giving it up though, I achieve the same level of tolerance that lets me drink a small amount to experience the optimum relaxation that I seek when I reach for a glass in the first place. In the past2, it was more about denying myself the pleasure of eating my favourite thing in the whole world3. Now though, it’s more about remaining the kind of person who can function well without too many crutches4.
I’m being more lenient with myself this year, and I am finding it quite liberating5. Last year, I only allowed myself one free day. It was someone’s birthday and I didn’t want to be a wet blanket talking about moderation and what not, so I had a few and instead opted not to celebrate with a drink on Easter Sunday6. Last year, I equated alcohol to chocolate and this year I’ve realized it isn’t so much the substance but the circumstance, and the emotions tied to the need for a drink.
It was trying. Not just because I had made the decision to give up the drink; rather, it was a pretty trying point in my life. There were all sorts of problems – money, love, health, you name it. There were hints of problems in every category, at best. I’ll be honest, I stopped a few days early. Easter was on April 20th and I had my first drink on April 15th. Mind you, I didn’t drink every night until Easter after that point. April 15th was a very special occasion to me, and it deserved a little celebratory drink. I had a couple of other days of drinks in there, but as I had previously mentioned – they were to celebrate birthdays, and other such special occasions.
It’s certainly an exercise that I plan to continue in the future. I think that I rely on external relief far too often, and that is simply not healthy. If I need to deprive myself of something like this, once in a while, to remind myself that I have it in me to get through whatever it is that I’m going through then so be it. At least I have the cohonas to actually do it, right?
What did you give up for Lent?