I was searching for a box of Papermate Write Bros medium point blue pens on Amazon, the BEST PENS IN ALL THE WORLD, and the ones I've been using for, well, gosh, over a quarter century now, when J commented to me, "I envy you your things." I found a box, added it to my cart, and turned to look at him.
"You envy me my things? What does that mean?"
"I envy you your things," he repeated. "You have these things that you just know what they are, you have your choices made, and when they run out or wear out, you buy replacements online, you know what works for you. You don't have to think about them, try them out, decide. You have Your Things."
I looked down at my Eddie Bauer boyfriend-cut relaxed-fit size 6 pants, which were curled up a bit, leaned over a bit, pulled them down over my Mizuno Women's Wave Rider size 7.5 running shoes, and wiggled my toes. I've been buying these same running shoes for at least twelve years, more like fifteen. I might own a dozen pairs of these pants, all in the same cut and style. And another dozen of the shorts versions of the pants.
I have a dozen Eddie Bauer long sleeved striped size medium t-shirts in rotation that I wear under a rotating group of American Apparel 50/50 blend size small black t-shirts. My uniform. I suspect I'll wear those out soon, and need to find a new t-shirt.
I have a stack of Muji B5 sized, 6mm lined, sewn binding, kraft cover notebooks sitting near me. By "stack" I mean maybe thirty of them. I rarely buy fewer than ten at a time. My collection of Papermate Write Bros Blue Medium tip pens is becoming smaller, as the supply reduces. The pen is going extinct. I have started my search for a new pen, since these won't last me more than another five years. I'll need a new favorite pen soon.
I buy Patric Dark Milk 58% chocolate monthly. It is the most amazing chocolate ever. It is the yardstick by which I measure all other chocolates.
I have my yellow index cards. Everything I need to do goes on one of those cards, or I lose it. Losing items from my to-do list isn't the worst thing to happen, to be honest. Losing those index cards would be, however.
My drinks are easy, too. Rochefort 8, and only Rochefort 8, for a beer. All others are awful. Aw. Full. Suntory Hibiki whiskey, best whiskey for the dollar. Bubbly water over flat, soda or sparkling, flat is fine if the only other option is a soda. Silver needle white tea. Salt & Straw Honey Lavender every time.
I wear things out, I buy replacements. Sometimes the things I wear out aren't made any more, and then I'm somewhat lost (just ask me about my underwear, that's a story and a half and I'm likely to relearn how to use an overlock just to sew my own underwear I love the brand and style I have so much, and they aren't being made any more). I'll try a bunch before settling on the next Your Things™ thing, but then I'll buy a million of them (exaggerating for effect, but only slightly).
There are some things I'm willing to spend cognitive currency on, and many, many more things that bring me delight, sometimes joy, when I use them. Those latter items are My Things™. And now that I understand what he was commenting on, I have to say, yes, it's okay to envy them.
Okay, I figured it out, I figured out what I'm giving up for Lent this year.
Yep, giving up being lazy.
Here's what I'm thinking. Depression is hard to shake. You KNOW what you need to do to move through it and arrive at the other side, but just... can't... do... it. And so you stay there. Exercise is one of those depression shakers. As is doing (something, anything, just start moving forward). Both of these require not being lazy.
Yes, yes, I know. Depression is not the same as being lazy. I know this. I understand how rising from bed some days is a f--king victory. I understand. I also know I need to shake this one, so work with me here, ignore the poor choice of words.
Routines really help you keep going when depression hits. So do thought-out rules: actions and restrictions that make sense, and prevent you from falling too far into the abyss. For example, I have a rule that I can listen to an audiobook, as long as I'm doing another activity such as running, walking, cleaning, folding clothes, bathing the dog, and other non-mental-taxing activities. That's a big one for me. When I break that rule, red flags and sirens go off in my head, DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER, and checking in with myself is very very important at that moment.
Routines, rules, and all that, they go only so far. They haven't gone far enough with this Dark.
And along comes Lent.
So, not being lazy. Those moments when I'm relaxing not for self-care, but for laziness, gone. Those moments when I want to play 10x10, I'll pick up my outline and keep writing. Those moments when I have 15 minutes before the next activity, ponder the serverless perpetual-motion community site I might have a chance to build. Those nights when I look at my step counter and it's only 9600 steps, I'll get up and walk those remaining 2400 steps, instead of thinking, eh, 9600 is close enough.
At this moment, this is the perfect thing to give up for Lent. And close to the hardest thing I'll be able to give up. I'm a day late starting, but day two is done.
And this hot chocolate is delicious.
Today is the first day of Lent. Related: Happy Valentine's Day!
As the first day of Lent, I realize I'm behind, again, with my deciding what to give up for Lent. This is apparently a trend, and unsurprising, as I'm not actively participating in any organized religion. I'm missing the cues, the reminders that tell people that, hey, think about this, pay attention!
Why do this at all? Why give up anything for Lent if I don't have a religious or moral imperative to sacrifice something that brings me joy, that causes happiness, that I find satisfying?
Easiest answer would be because I want to do it.
Of course, the fullest answer is more complicated than that, and involves accepting and accomplishing a challenge. The answer also includes elements of control, even if said control is an illusion. No doubt, some childhood indoctrination into religion has some play in the answer, "because one is supposed to do this." There might be some financial reasoning in the answer, possibly some punishment or self-hatred in the mix, but I'm less sure about those two elements.
So, the easiest answer stays: because I want to do it.
Given that, what to give up? What to let go?
Giving up alcohol is a common item to give up on Lent. While I have been drinking more than I usually do, and had been drinking to relieve the pain and anxiety of the last few months (even though that never works, alcohol doesn't fix the problems, just delays the dealing with them), giving up alcohol isn't really difficult, and definitely isn't a sacrifice. So, that's out.
Tea might be a good one. I drink a LOT of tea. Keeping this one on the list.
Coffee? No brainer, not a sacrifice, hate the stuff.
Meat? Wouldn't be difficult, I prefer a vegetarian diet and have to consciously eat meat for the protein most meals. A vegan diet, however, would be difficult. This is a good one to consider.
Chocolate? Yes, this one I find difficult to give up. Made more so by the 20 bars of Patric Chocolate that Jonathan bought me.
Sugar? Oh my yes. Giving up sugar, deliberately avoiding all sweets and fruit would be hard. And health-wise very, very good for me. It would include chocolate by default.
Speaking of "in general" along those lines, food is an option, too.
** Insert sound of needle dragging across a record here. **
Fasting is a typical Lent thing. From Wikipedia's page on Lent:
For Latin Catholics, by the early 20th century the theoretical obligation of the penitential fast throughout Lent except on Sundays was to take only one full meal a day and that around noon. In addition, a smaller meal, called a collation, was allowed in the evening, and a cup of some beverage, accompanied by a little bread, in the morning. In practice, this obligation, which was a matter of custom rather than of written law, was not observed strictly.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law allowed the full meal on a fasting day to be taken at any hour and to be supplemented by two collations, with the quantity and the quality of the food to be determined by local custom. The Lenten fast ended on Holy Saturday at noon. Only those aged 21 to 59 were obliged to fast. As with all merely ecclesiastical laws, particular difficulties, such as strenuous work or illness, excused one from observance, and a dispensation from the law could be granted by a bishop or parish priest. In addition to fasting, abstinence from meat was to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays and Saturdays in Lent.
A rule of thumb is that the two collations should not add up to the equivalent of another full meal. Rather portions were to be: "sufficient to sustain strength, but not sufficient to satisfy hunger".
Fasting is already part of my life, but not at the level of forty-seven days in a row. Again I shake my fist at the sky over Catholics believing that SUNDAYS DON'T COUNT during the forty days of the fasting in the desert. Consider this, did he think, "Oh, I'm going to eat on Sundays?" No, he didn't. He fasted 40 days straight, not counting Sundays is bullsh-t and another power play by the church over its people. Bull. Sh-t.
And I digress.
Fasting. Part of my life. Not for FORTY-SEVEN days in a row, though. Even at reduced caloric input, being hungry for forty-seven days would be a sacrifice in a way that I haven't experienced yet. Would I be disingenuous to choose this? Does it satisfy my need to give up something for Lent? Or would it be more than that?
Other options? Screw it, other options of things to give up for Lent, this time without explanations:
Spending money, except for necessities.
Checking out books from the library.
Feeling sorry for myself.
The victim role.
The habits and routines that don't help me out of depression.
Listening to television while I work.
10x10 (argh, that game! such a time sink!)
Overplanning my days.
Underplanning my days.
Maybe some "not" options, giving up not doing things by actually doing them? Unsure.
Pick something. Anything. Start there, and adjust as needed. Start today. Start now. Didn't need to eat today anyway.
Chocopocalypse is in 47 days. I look forward to the day. Again. It is the most wonderful holiday on record. Time to bring it back.
Happy Valentine's Day.