Six weeks ago, I wrote this post. I don't bother doing Lent unless I'm completely committed to it. There have been plenty of years that I've skipped it entirely because the commitment's not there. I hate doing anything half-assed. As a result, there's a lot that I don't do because if I can't bring myself to put my name on it (whether literally or figuratively) then I don't want to waste my time.
(This makes me think of the mint story. I think that project bothered me not because I HAD to do it, but because I did not have a plan to do it with excellence. And maybe that's ok: I still earned a high grade on the assignment because the grade was based on quantity, not quality. Shooting for quality would have been a wasted effort anyway. Half-assed worked in that case.)
Typically, however, it doesn't work. Or, it works but it works because everybody knows that minimal effort is your thing and there's nothing more to be expected of you.
The day I become one of those people, please somebody: Take me out back and end it already.
That being said, I'm not happy with this year's Lent progress. Honestly, I really don't think God cares about this at all--I think he's more concerned with the starving orphans of the world and the scared and lonely people facing severe harms on a regular basis. But, I care because I can't help but think that if I can't commit to something really, really minor for forty days and nights, then what the hell am I doing with my life?
I love, love, love anything that has to do with the Italian language. I love languages--I love talking. If I couldn't talk I wouldn't want to live. If I hit the lottery, I would go back for a French degree. We take for granted all of the words we use--where they come from, what they mean, what they once meant, what they mean if your tone/inflection goes up or down on a particular syllable, or if you do something very specific with your hands or your face while saying a particular word. I'm thinking of my Italian professor barely whispering the word, "Niente!"--nothing--while moving his hand under his chin, the back of his hand facing and moving toward the audience and the fingertips just barely grazing underneath his chin. He was not just saying "Nothing!" but "Nothing--gone, without a trace, and who cares? It's too late. Nothing is there now. And you asked for it. Do you feel regret? Good. Because you should. Rot into it." I don't even remember the context of the story, just the sound and the movement together.
I studied my Italian for FIVE DAYS at the beginning of Lent ... and then set it down and didn't pick it back up. It certainly wasn't for lack of interest or lack of passion. I. Just. Did. Not. Want. To. Which is the ENTIRE POINT OF LENT. Nobody picks something they WANT to do for Lent! That's not how it works. If that was the case, I would just say, "Eat more candy" every year and feel really happy about the results. So easy. I cannot even believe that I am going to write this here, but there is a scene in the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love (let the eye rolling begin! It's ok--I get it) where Julia Robert's Liz is reading an Italian dictionary in the bathtub before she leaves for Italy. She doesn't know any of the words and has trouble pronouncing them. I had to pause the movie until I stopped CRYING because I had the gift of studying that same language for nine years ... and every day I forget something else that was once seared into my brain: A random vocab word, a menu item, an adjective (and the placement of the adjective: before the noun or after?), whether a verb takes essere or not, whether a verb is an exception verb or not. My favorite subject in school for nine years is evaporating from my brain and I'm not doing anything to stop it. Why? It's sad to me, and yet I do nothing to change it.
I blamed my lack of initiative on the cerebral nature of the activity. I am worn out from studying. Sick of it. Sadly, it's what I do best. That's a strange place to be in. I can't tell if this is a temporary thing or if it risks permanence. I really think it's just temporary, but it will only be temporary if I end it so as to prevent its permanence. See? Square One.
I don't want to allow myself to conclude, "Well, I'll try again next year." If I'm losing something everyday, then I risk another 365 things to the dustbin of forgetfulness.
So I don't know. Maybe I'll just keep a random book on the kitchen table or the coffee table with the intention that I'll read that for a random ten minutes each night rather than a magazine. That's actually not a bad idea. Actually, I really like that idea. If Ron can slog through (rather, soar through) The Count of Monte Cristo and Moby Dick in one calendar year, then why can't I relearn my second language in ten minutes a day? (Have you seen TCofMC? It's so big and thick that the ninth grader in you goes, "NOOOO!!! I'LL DO ANYTHING!! DON'T MAKE ME READ IT!!!")
Just when I think I've got the will power thing down, I find out that I am still SO BAD AT IT. I'm not sure if it ever ends. I won't lie: sometimes I think it would be nice if it just DID. Something else tells me that I shouldn't hold my breath on that one.