Hieronymus Bosch The Seven Deadly Sins and the four Last Things (click to enlarge)
Kay's Seven Deadly Sins meme is up and running with sloth. So far in playing these meme, I've stuck to a non-confessional mode but for this one I think I'll make an attempt to write a little about my own slothfulness.
I was baptized Catholic. My father allowed it to appease my mother. After that, Mother became overwhelmed by life, I'm sure and neglected to keep trying to convince Father that my brother and I should be raised Catholic. My father was, for most of his life, a self-proclaimed atheist but later in life, he began to cave in to the whims of the Virgin Mary, who in Portugal is more popular than Jesus. I then began to consider him more of an agnostic, though he was hard-pressed to admit it himself.
So having no formal religious upbringing, I don't believe in sin as it's proclaimed in early Christian thinking. Or any Christian thinking, for that matter. But I don't say that to dampen the spirit of Kay or her meme but to illustrate how little regard I have for western religion. In other words, I'm a heathen, a pagan and a secular humanist, for the most part. With a deep, underlying sense that god is love and love is god and that is what's inside of each of us. When I am overwhelmed by the power, beauty and magic of this earth, I do wonder about a Great Spirit or Creator. But I'm not too hung up on what form or forms that could possibly take. I'm content to sit in wonder and refer to science, mythology and legend.
Having said that I don't really believe in Sin as punishable in any godly way, I must admit that if I did, Sloth would have to be my greatest sin. Especially in the last couple of years. I used to be very hard-working. I still work hard at many things: my job. Uh. My job. Everything else is always piling up: laundry, housework, yard work, lists of people to call, lists of things to do.
I'm torn between guilt and celebration at my slothfulness. I feel guilty because I grew up with a working mother who ironed the underwear every Sunday and kept the house spotless and dust-free. I feel celebratory because it's liberating not to be a slave to that crap. By the same token, it's taking its toll in that I feel even more slothful when I see what is piling up, become overwhelmed and turn my back on it.
I'm trying to find reasons for my slack. One friend said it's okay for me to be slothful because I only a couple of years ago sent my youngest off to college. Prior to that it seems it was nothing but work. Raising two busy daughters, working, getting them through high school and the whole college admissions process, going through a divorce, beginning a new relationship with new daughters and a future MIL. My friend thinks I'm entitled to some sloth. I'd like to seize on her comments and cave in to them, forever. But I'm not altogether sure this is a healthy thing to do. I'm now nearing the end of my rope in the sloth department.
I'm making myself do things. Forcing. Yesterday, I decided to go out and work in the yard to remove leaves and see what's popping up. It was tempting to take my camera and start taking pictures but I made a pact with myself that I would work for an hour and then go get the camera as a reward. It worked. I accomplished quite a lot, found some shoots of spring bulbs popping up and then felt entitled to take a drive and shoot more pictures.
Later in the day, I visited my future MIL, who is 87 and going downhill fast. I brought her some soup and we talked about her memorial service arrangements, which she has been very diligent in planning. I see her a few times a week but again, I have to force myself to go. It's really tearing me up to see someone I care about preparing herself for death. It makes sense that she do so. It means she's accepting that she won't last forever. But it's still a painful reminder of loss and regret.
I don't always want to be reminded of loss and regret. Another way in which I've changed. I wallowed in loss and regret for years. After finally beating down depression after many long years, I want to avoid the heavy emotional work of confronting it when I need to.
It appears that my tendency toward slothfulness is a mixed bag. There is a lot of freedom in it from the things that used to overwhelm me with depression, stress and anxiety. By the same token, I'm asking myself how long I want this to last.
My house is not clean. It's hard to keep clean. It's a house built in 1950. It has many nice antique rugs that create tremendous dust. If I were a good housekeeper, I'd have to vacuum daily. And I don't want to, so I live with the dust. I manage to make and keep a couple of rooms really nice.
Our bedroom is not one of them. It's like a dorm room we share. I'm okay with that. My desk is here. The filing chest from WP's father's old insurance office from the 40s and 50s, which is filled with art postcards, photographs, craft stuff and all sorts of odds and ends. WP has his piles of books. We have our TV where we watch a lot of movies. Our bed has a feather mattress top and a warm, down quilt. And there is my bureau with my collection of handcrafted (mostly) jewelry. We live and love and work and read and entertain ourselves in this room. Here is another example of giving up on expectations. My parent's room was for sleeping only. The bed was always made and everything was in its place, dust-free and perfect.
There have been times when I want that same order; when I wish I could turn a room into a place of beauty that stays the same no matter who has been in it. I have been striving for color and art in the parts of the house I can control. Otherwise, I think it is more important to live than to showcase.
I don't live alone. I want to avoid the trap of making up the whole house my way without regard to its history and the two generations that've grown up here. More importantly, this is WP's house as well as my house. The rugs are his. Most of the art is his. Some things are now ours. It's a mishmash of what happens when a blended family is created. Most of the time I'm okay with that.
I meandered a bit on sloth. But what all my words have in common, I think, is an attempt to try to balance what I don't want to do with what I have to do. I saw how hard both my parents worked to achieve some standard they had for their home. At times at the expense of just being and spending time as a family. I don't want to do that but I'm not always comfortable with th result of slacking off, either.
This is a struggle for me, not a sin. Interestingly the wiki entry for The Seven Deadly Sins indicates that the old form of sloth was really about the sin of despair and melancholy. In other words: what we now call depression. Its modern form is more like laziness and not utilizing one's talents. Looking at sloth from a sin perspective, I'm guilty of both. I was in a state of low-level depression for years, with the occasional clinical episode. And now I'm not depressed, just slacking off! See how complicated this slothfulness is for me? ;-)
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