Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur



Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Being a non-Mormon child in Utah usually means that you are friends with the Catholics. So many of the LDS children are told that they cannot associate with the world, that many of my friends at one time or another, told me that they could not play with me anymore because I wasn’t Mormon. The friends that never abandoned me were my Catholic friends.

That being said, you can understand how I would learn about Lent. From Ash Wednesday (Hey, you’ve got some black stuff on your forehead?) to Easter, my devoutly Catholic friends would give up something important to them. I don’t know when I started participating in this activity, but as a teen, I gave up things like chocolate and Twinkies. After some maturation, I realized that I could control my body and started to think of more challenging behaviors to sacrifice at Lent. Since my late teens, I have chosen thought patterns to control. For example, giving up thinking about Brad Pitt as a sex object, quit obsessing about the faults of my immediate supervisor at work, or stop fantasizing about winning the lottery.

Now, I see myself as the logical atheist that I am and yet I still give up something every year for Lent. I am still learning to control my mind, so I still give up a damaging thought pattern. This ritual never really had a religious significance to me, so I never really felt like I was doing this for a higher power, yet I still participate. Why?

At forty days, Lent is a conveniently lengthy time to break a bad habit. There are adults who still stop smoking or quit drinking coffee for Lent. After abstaining from something for forty days, it is substantially easier to resist it for the rest of my life. Having a period of time devoted each year for working to make myself a better person is incredibly beneficial. Choosing only one character flaw, and working on it continuously for forty days is the perfect way to perfect myself. The Catholic religion has stumbled upon a personal development plan that actually works. Why aren’t all of us observing Lent?

Because it’s hard. It’s so much easier to say to myself, “I’m not going to fantasize about winning the lottery.” It’s a hell of a lot harder to control my mind every time I see a Publisher’s Clearing House commercial. During this time of thought control, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to decide the positive thoughts that I want to place in my mind instead. Lent is easier when I say, “Every time I catch myself thinking about winning the lottery, I’m going to concentrate on ways to be more frugal with the money I already have, ways to earn more money in my spare time, or ways to cut my expenses.” That way, I have many other things to think of instead of obsessing over something that is statistically unlikely. I’ve found ways to make Lent easier for myself, but in all truthfulness, self-development is difficult, and that is why Lent is not a popular ritual, even among Catholics.

Wish me luck!


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