Walking home each midday from training I am abased by a yellow terrain blanket of lent lilies and I think I may be one of the few English speakers left who actually refer to the daffodil in such an out dated literary manner. Nonetheless, I find it a rather fitting figure of speech to describe the end of this Lenten period–a time which, in theory, should have been awash with prayer and penance and fasting and self-denial. But instead I found it prayerless, brazen, indulgent, and self-confirming.
Lent comes from the Latin word lentus meaning slow or calm. Prior to Ash Wednesday, I was preparing myself to slow down the pace of my life, to find a calming energy within the universe, to discern my spiritual beliefs from all the childhood indoctrination, to turn inward, to find myself, to…
Hindsight being the 20/20 that it always is, I now realize that I was trying to attain some rudimentary level of enlightenment in forty days. Only 40 days! Buddhist monks spend a lifetime on this, and I was so naïve to believe I could reach it in eight days less than four fortnights. I have always been overambitious (not from narcissism or egotism but a need to escape entering a world I never choose to be a part of, a form of silent late blooming rebellion since I spent my teenage years a timid recluse pouring over books and my second rate run-of-the-mill poetry).
I started out as most observers by giving up something I enjoy and would actually miss–espresso. I drank at least six espresso shots a day. I rationalized this quite simplistically. I figured each time I denied myself the pleasure of an espresso I would reflect upon my list of aforementioned Lenten goals. This did not happen. After the twelve day long caffeine headache subsided my life went on as normal…just without espresso. After two weeks I barely noticed its absence. Maybe I was cheating since in Zagreb the only place to get a decent shot is Elis Café (65 Illica) and that is located all the way across town and unfortunately I have not got the time to frequent that little corner of well balanced bliss.
I did not stop there. I gave up other things– TV and useless internet usage. This was another easy sacrifice in that I do not own a television and my computer is broken. Lastly I decided I would live my life simply. I would only eat natural food (nothing processed, and certainly no junk food) and my only entertainment would be reading, but not just any reading–Hegel’s Theological Writings and Aquinas’ Summa in an attempt of finding my way. Maybe I would be able to reconcile with the religion of my youth and grow into the religion of my new country? The closest I came to reading anything religious was The name of the Rose, and reading that really only helped confirm my belief that religion belong inside a person instead of inside a building.
I was raised Catholic. I retired from Catholicism once entering college (and New York). Then I found myself alternating: from Agnosticism to Athetism, back to Agnosticism, to a brief brush with Buddhism, back to Agnosticism, to Existentialism, to Taoism, to Postmodernism, to Gnosticism. Yes, I did consider past philosophical movements as religions. Yes, I did always somehow find my way back to Agnosticism but that always seemed a better answer for the lost. If one cannot decide the best way is to choose nothing? Where as I now? I don’t know. I am no closer now than I was on Fat Tuesday to finding an answer.
So what did I learn during this time?
I learned you cannot force something that is not meant to be. You cannot just deny yourself and expect life to change. You cannot just can’t. You must just must and wait.
Sva prava pridržana © 2008. AK Zagreb Ulix