I’m not Catholic, but I have ‘participated’ in Lent a few times, in a non-religious way. I’ve given up evening TV watching, chocolate, buying new, and other things. Trouble is I tend to binge on those things after Lent is over. Don’t get me wrong, I do think self-denial and fasting can be good things, they just haven’t worked for me in this instance. And it doesn’t fit in well with my personal improvement philosophy. For example, I don’t believe in deprivation dieting, banning certain ‘bad’ foods like fat, carbs, chocolate, etc. If I feel my diet needs improving I’d much rather add things; more whole grains, more legumes, more water. These healthy additions tend to push out the less desirable foods I might be inclined to indulge in. So I thought maybe the same approach would work for my self-refining/development.
With that in mind, this year I’m trying something a little different for Lent. Rather than giving something up, I’m resuming something I’d given up, namely the flute.
Believe me, I’m not taking the easy way out. I haven’t played for three years now! And some days are so packed for me it’s all I can do to do the things that need to be done that day (feeding kids, running various errands, blog posts). I don’t expect that I’ll be able to play my flute every day of Lent, but I can fit it in most days. It has been so long since I played, all my finger and embouchure muscles have to be rebuilt. It will take a lot of work and effort not to get discouraged (I used to be better!) So in addition to reclaiming a skill I once had, I’ll be developing self-discipline and perseverance. And, in a way, I’m sacrificing some of my time for something better. Which fits in nicely with the spirit of Lent as I understand it. Right now I only plan on practicing like this for the duration of Lent, but who knows, maybe by the end it will become a habit I won’t want to give up.