Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Let not the precious time be lost

Lately, I've been feeling burned-out. The kids have more energy than I do, and they burn it off by fighting with each other or throwing all their stuffed animals on the floor or raiding the freezer. On top of that, keeping house is a dull occupation for a results-oriented person, because even if you clean the kitchen one day you have to do it again the next day, and the next day, and the next day. It seems like I have to run as fast as I can just to stay in one place, and recently my speed has been slacking.

And speaking of placing one foot in front of the next, I'm physically tired. Darwin and I have finally come to terms with the fact that our average metabolisms and relative youth won't last forever, and have decided to take steps to get and stay in shape. And that means running. (Well, for Darwin it means running -- for me it means a mixture of walking and jogging and hoping to God that no one drives by and sees me.) The fickle bathroom scale is putting me at a pound or two less, but the progress is hard and slow and sometimes seems pointless.

There are times when all I want to do is just read my book, for Pete's sake, but real life keeps trying to intrude. Julia's potty training is going oh-so-slowly because she doesn't seem to care about it, and it's getting to where I don't either. Baby is a good-natured little thing, but she gets tired of sitting in the recliner with my book long before I do, and she loathes the computer. Eleanor wants to raid the fridge or climb up to various shelves to get picture albums or dishes to play with. And I just want to be left alone to do my own thing, because what's the point of wiping down the table or folding the laundry when I'm just going to have to do it again tomorrow? LEAVE ME ALONE and let me read!

Yesterday afternoon as I was standing amidst the wreckage of the kitchen, I realized that my shirking of responsibilities was more than mere laziness or burn-out. It was sloth -- "not merely idleness of mind and laziness of body: it is that whole poisoning of the will which, beginning with indifference, and an attitude of 'I couldn't care less', extends to the deliberate refusal of joy and culminates in morbid introspection and despair."* Sloth can take different forms -- Tolerance, Disillusionment, Escapism. And I was worn-out with being slothful, and I was ready to combat it.

So I pulled out our copy of Dante's Purgatory to discover what the penitents on the Fourth Cornice did to atone for their sloth, and what prayer they chanted. Upon flipping to Canto 18, I at once found the passage where the souls cry to each other, "Quick! Quick! Let not the precious time be lost for lack of love! ...In good work strive, till grace revive from dust!" The slothful souls are the only ones in Purgatory who are given no prayer to pray -- their prayer is in their labor.

And the labor that makes up their penance? Ceaseless activity. Namely, running.

*The description of sloth is taken from the commentary on the Image of Sloth in Dorothy Sayers' translation of Purgatory, Penguin, 1955


John Farrell said...

My wife and I are (I figure) at least 10 years older than both of you kids.


That said, I ran too. But after a while I discovered that your metabolism adjusts to easily to running (at least mine did) and it ceased to have any beneficial effects on my weight.

I'm now an 'elliptical' freak. I try to get to the club across the street from my job three times a week, and I find this helps a lot.

(for what it's worth)

Our younger daughter, after several weeks, is now close to being fully potty trained (with occasional lapses).

Rick Lugari said...

I've found that smoking is the best way to keep the weight off. Of course, after 25 years you might still gain a few pounds, but you lose it again just as soon as you have your first lung removed.

Praying Twice said...

I don't know what method of potty training you are using, but my wife and I are about to implement the plan found in the book, "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day" by Azrin and Foxx. I've heard many success stories with it even in children as young as 18 months.

I'll let you know how it goes.

John Farrell said...

My current potty trainee (2 year old) does things like this:

At her coloring book. Puts her crayon down. "Need to go pee pee."

Runs to the little Dora potty we keep by the back door. Pulls down her panties and sits. Gets up. "No pee pee. I just passed gas."

Returns to her coloring book at the table.

"You're passing gas?" I ask.

She nods. "I think I need pass gas in the living room." Gets down promptly and scampers into the living room.

You live for moments like this.


Dorian Speed said...

I could have written this post. Except for all the parts about running. And probably not so many of the you say...words.


mrsdarwin said...

And I didn't even touch on the mental weariness I feel. And the fact that I don't have many acquaintances who provide a whetstone to my dulling intellectual edge. I have brain atrophy to the max.

Anonymous said...

"to the max! "*giggles like a valley girl*

Amber said...

Just a thought, but have you considered that part of this might be due to the hormonal changes and such that come from having a baby not that long ago? Personally, I find that if I supplement with fish oil (so as to get lots of DHA) that it is much easier to be mentally and physically active. If I skip it, I find it really hard to peel myself off the computer or where ever else I've decided to park myself because it seems numbing and easy.

Granted, you still need enough will power to get yourself moving, but if you are having a little bit of a chemistry problem it can really help you keep moving! Someone I know has an email signature line that says "Energy creates energy, keep moving!" and I tend to think of that at times when I'm feeling sluggish and coming up with as many excuses as possible to not go the next thing I need to do. Along those lines, I also think of Newton's First Law as encouragement to keep going. I know, I'm such a dork. :-)