Growing up in an agnostic home, I was unfamiliar with the idea of Lent. Of fasting in general. But as I've matured, I've come to appreciate the idea of denying yourself for a period of time. It takes practice, but there is much to be gained by the act of withholding from yourself.
In the most recent issue of Offscreen Mag, I was hitting on this idea.
Thanks to the good writing of others, I've been thinking a lot about contrast of late. How a good coffee is better enjoyed after a bitterly cold morning of chopping wood. A hot shower is best when the muscles are fatigued, the body covered in dirt.
You appreciate things more when you don't partake in them constantly. Working on a computer brings me a lot of joy, but not if I put it above everything else in my life and spend more time on it than is healthy. I love, love Chapman's Vanilla Frozen Yoghurt drizzled with Adam's Peanut Butter. But if I eat it 3–4 times a week, it loses the allure, some of the enjoyment.
“Familiarity breeds contempt” is a phrase that rings true. We come to value things less when we're not reminded of how good they are and how blessed we are to have them. Good food, work we love, spouses, children, healthcare, friends … the list goes on. We take a lot for granted in North America.
And so choosing to deny yourself is not a matter of discipline, although discipline is required. It's actually a matter of self-interest, a seeking of greater joy. I'll be better off for holding back for a while, gaining appreciation for the blessings in my life.
Back to Lent. This year my wife and I are taking part in this observance. There are many ways to observe it, many things to fast from. My wife and I are off of the Internet: no blogs, no RSS, no Twitter or Facebook for 40 days. I'm abstaining from food one day each week. Breakfast on Sunday morning has new meaning these past few weeks!
Again, this is not an exercise in self-will. It's good for me.