So, here we are, one week into Lent. No sweets for 40 days, dang! How am I doing on my promesa? I know what you’re thinking, so I’m gonna stop you right there: No, I don’t believe if I eat a couple of Junior Mints® I’ll be struck dead and spend all of eternity in a fiery hell.
I did grow up Catholic, mind you, so did believe in such things for a while. I look back at a lot of these religious artifacts from my childhood much as I see the pop music of the same era: with a sense of irony and nostalgia. Sure, a lot of it was really awful, but it was my awful, and it meant something at the time. Why be bitter about it? For better or worse, it all went into making me who I am.
I still love other religious rituals like Christmas and singing along to Jesus Christ Superstar as well. I must say, though, it’s not the same without the fighting over who gets to be Judas. He gets all the sexy parts.
What was I talking about? Oh, Lent. I like the discipline of doing something good for myself for a set amount of time — or really, just about any kind of obsessive project — but I am certainly not a fanatic about it. As I learned in my recent “Cultivating Positive Emotion” class, goals should be realistic. Which is why I don’t feel bad about having had a tiny little bite of the most wonderful chocolate-and-almond-covered organic toffee yesterday. It really was yummy.
They were handing it out for free at the farmers market outside the Ferry Building yesterday, fergodsakes! What was I to do? Throw it away? Turn it down? Give it to my friend Mitch? I may be a fan of religious rituals, but I’m not crazy! (Pause to let that sink in.)
So, now what? I adapt. My resolution is now officially, retroactively, to have no more than a tiny morsel of something sweet no more than once a week for the 40 days of Lent. That seems realistic.
What! Foul, you cry? May I remind you that this is my obsessive project, so I can make the rules whatever I want them to be. (Last time I did this, I got into a big tussle with someone over whether I should be “allowed” to have hot chocolate. I’ll have hot chocolate if I damn well please, thank you very much.) Didn’t I already tell you I don’t believe I’m going to burn in anyone’s quite imaginary hell over this? All right, then.
This reminds me of when I gave up cheese for New Year’s a few years back and then had the most delicious crêpe with melted cheese in it for my very first meal of the year. Then, as now, I merely adapted: “No free-standing cheese for all of 2004,” I declared with authority, as if there were nothing at all unusual about it.
I had some free-standing cheese sometime around April, as I recall, but by then pretty much everyone had forgotten all about my pledge…which happens.