All entries for Friday 02 March 2007

March 02, 2007

Giving Stuff Up For Lent

I’ve been curious for a while about the nature of human self-denial, the way people seem to want to find excuses to give things up or deny themselves things they want/need for finite periods of time. It’s noticeable that almost all major religions have a period of denial built into their belief structures, rendering the act as necessary and as important as those other universal features of religion belief in a power, the exhortation to be good, and at least one major parable/book/component which seems to have been written by someone off their face on mushrooms. It’s an act of self discipline but an organised and regulated one, and the main one in this coutry is, rather obviously, Lent. Watch campus life continue seemingly unchanged with only the knowledge that Costcutter will be selling less chocolate and biscuits, and there may be a reduction in swearing.

But most people I know won’t give up anything really hard. None of my smoker friends have stopped with the cancer sticks, none of the drinkers are giving their livers a break. None of the football team have stopped skipping training. Admittedly in the case of the smokers I sympathise a little (not much though) because they are facing a rather less temporary time of hardship from 1st July, or as I like to call it, the day we catch up with Ireland and stop poor people like me getting lung cancer against our wills. But why do so few people give up something hard? I stopped when I realised that I was as bad. And that I’m not interested in religion. But mostly because I never ever gave up anything hard… and even then I still couldn’t refrain from what I did give up.

My dad gave up pineapples one year. The year in question was some time in the late 1950s/early 1960s in Ireland. Considering his family weren’t rich, and Ireland was itself in a bit of a backwards situation then, he hadn’t ever had pineapple. The mental image of this small Irish kid giving up something stupidly exotic sums up a lot of the efforts which are made with Lent. He’d have had to make more effort to take up pineapple eating!

I guess I just don’t understand the intrinsic need to give stuff up at a given time, for a limited period. You either give up when needed, say because you need to detox or similar, or you give up permanently. In both cases on your own time. I’m as bad as everyone else at giving up things which I actually want to do… but if and when I give up the things I want to stop doing (procrastinating mostly… she says blogging instead of essay reading) I will bloody well do it. At least until I give in. And I reserve the right to give in at any time, with no stop point.

For the record I’ve not eaten any pineapple at all this calender year. Take that, dad!


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