Friday, March 20, 2009
Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth
Well it's Friday and for the Lenten Season Kay over at Perhaps we Learn is hosting a meme on the 7 deadly sins. This week our topic is sloth. I missed week #2 (Wrath) a couple of weeks ago and because it seems timely, I had thought about writing about anger too. But this is already long so maybe I'll try to do wrath tomorrow or Sunday instead.
It's funny that this week is about sloth because right now my body and I are at war with daylight savings time. I seem to be making a slower than usual recovery from the shift. Well, I'm really not recovering. I've backslid about 30 minutes on my going to bed at a more normal hour rule and I'm getting up a half hour later. And this makes me feel very cranky and tired. I need to get over it, but for some reason even when I get to bed at the "right" time, I don't want to get up in the morning and my mornings are starting late and it's just very irritating and makes me feel bad about myself, makes me feel - you guessed it - LAZY! Lucky for me I don't have to go to work, although if I did, I'd probably have gotten over this by now. I think daylight savings time is just silly.
But back to the topic at hand. Sloth. All this not getting up on time makes me feel an extra level of slothfulness. I already battle with the inner voices that tell me I'm lazy. It's another area in which I can't entirely tell truth from internalized fiction. There's a lot that needs to be done around my house that isn't getting done. I like to think this is because I'm not physically capable of it, but the voices in my head tend to think otherwise. Truth probably lies in the middle. I could do more. But I get discouraged because it's so difficult. (Laziness, the voices mutter.) In the end, I guess I come to the same opinion about laziness as I do with all the "sins." I think the greatest harm of the whole sin thing is that it is a systematic way of making us feel bad about ourselves. Hard work (the opposite of laziness we are taught) is a virtue. And sometimes it is. But is it always? Is running on a relentless treadmill of "doing something" really good for us or for society? I think it depends on what that effort is directed towards. And even directed towards the most noble cause, if work consumes every thought and moment, I'm not sure it's a virtue. Life needs warmth and joy and our bodies and our spirits need rest and tenderness and compassion. So many of us have internal voices that try and lash us into so-called virtue by beating us up about how wicked we are. I don't think that ever works really. I don't know the statistics, but I'm guessing that most slave laborers die/died young. Brutality - whether physical or emotional - is not a good motivator. The voices in my head - in the heads of too many of us - are often brutal indeed.
It's always interesting to me when I write things and have a revelation in the process. All the talk about slave labor and motivation made me think about perfectionism. I've probably shared this before, but one of the funniest therapy sessions I ever had was when Dr. Jim told me I was a perfectionist. "That's absurd," I responded. "I never do anything right." He just laughed at me and it slowly dawned on me that perhaps I was a perfectionist. (Perfections who read that and don't get the joke... read it again and think about it.) Doing your best is a virtue. Striving to mete some mythical and idealized vision of perfection (and of course in true perfectionism the bar continues to move so that you can never reach it) is just self destructive. No matter how beautiful your work of art you will find reason to fault it, no matter how clean your house is, you will see only the tiny spot of dust you missed or the slip cover you don't like or... And no matter how hard you work you will deem yourself lazy or inept because you didn't do more.
That said, I get as irritated as the next person at people who are disrespectful of other's time and feelings: the clerk in a store who is doing nothing and leaves you standing for 15 minutes or simply ignores you into submission. But the kinds of laziness that I'd qualify as "sinful" (if I believed in sin) are things like a doctor who thinks listening to his/her patients is too much of an ordeal to be born. Or someone who is too busy with his/her own life to spend a half hour listening to a friend in need. Or a dog "owner" who substitutes a chain in the back yard for attention and exercise for their four-legged companions. That kind of emotional laziness bothers me more than anything.
Still, I think we need to put the whole concept of sin into a box and put that box onto a high shelf where it can collect dust and be forgotten. I personally believe that God is LOVE. Love does not judge, particularly petty things like your weight or what time you get up in the morning or how clean you keep your house. God/LOVE has better things to do. All we can do in this life is our best and be kind to ourselves and each other.
Wicked woman that I am, I say "be lazy sometimes." Not always. But a healthy life is about balance. Work hard and rest easy. Not sure I've made a lot of sense here, but I'm not going to read it over because then I might have to rewrite it and I'm way to lazy to do that.
Deadly sins posts: