Indulgence is a Virtue

Today is Fat Tuesday!

The one day when every single one of us, regardless of weight , size, or level of body dysmorphia, stand up proud and strong and say, “As God is my Witness, I will never diet aga—“Tee2



Well, crap . . .

Every year at Lent, we of the Wednesday Forehead Smudge Crowd get another chance to reinforce those New Year’s resolutions we blew before the ides of January.

So we store up as many calories, cigarettes, reality TV programs, romance novels, LOLcats, or whatever is bad for us—or we’re told is bad for us—hoping that indigestion, hangovers, or sleep deprivation will help carry us through the first couple of days, as if discomfort counted as a virtue.

And we give up one or more of those things until Easter comes and we dive headfirst into a kiddie pool full of unwrapped Cadbury Eggs, or whatever your personal fantasies might entail, to make ourselves sick on unleashed suppression.

Or we take the other route and we try to form habits, instead of breaking them.  Like writing X words or for Y minutes a day.  Editing a chapter a day.  Eating five fruits and/or veggies, eating breakfast, yoga for twenty minutes, using the exercise bike for thirty.  And we hope we’ll keep doing those things well past the season, though usually what we get is more guilt.

But anything’s better than self-reflection, right?  Anything’s better than indulging in fifteen minutes of stopping everything and paying attention to ourselves—real attention, not instant gratification or resentment.  But just . . . checking in.

Looking for changes (good or iffy) in our core belief systems, seeing if we can take someone off our $#!% Lists today, feeling the feels (good or bad) and allowing the memories (good or bad) and forgiving ourselves for surviving all the embarrassments of our lives and for things we’ve done and left undone and also for having Cadbury eggs for breakfast to get through it all.

And maybe, once or twice, actually standing up proud and strong and saying, “As God is my Witness. . .”  or just sitting quietly and being okay with being ourselves for those fifteen minutes out of the 1440 we have.

Well, crap.

Guess I know what I’m doing for Lent.

But pass the pancakes and chili cheese fries, anyway.  And lob over a couple of those Cadbury eggs—the caramel ones.

‘Cause self-reflection is waaay easier on a full stomach.

Cadbury Love


18 thoughts on “Indulgence is a Virtue

  1. The trouble with all behaviors, is that they all have consequences. And the trouble with us all is that we don’t recognize them or we deny those we do recognize. Ain’t it awful?

  2. I get smudged as a non-Catholic and there’s none of this deprivation hoo-haw. We’re supposed to do the introspective reflection on our relationship with God and the sacrifice of Christ. However, nowhere does it say Cadbury Creme Eggs (or those little Cadbury crunch coated ones – oh, dear) harm that process, so I think I will add that into the mix. I”m pretty sure Cadbury will only strengthen my relationship with God. Right?

  3. “…we of the Wednesday Forehead Smudge Crowd.” Ha!

    I had my 15 minutes of sitting today (unrelated to Lent) and it felt good. I miss sitting with myself. I should do it more often.

  4. I used to get smudged but someone must have forgotten to tell me about the giving up and rediscovery of Cadbury Cremes. If only I had known there was chocolate snarfing involved. . . .

  5. When I was younger, I was always amused at what some of my friends were ‘giving up’ for Lent. Seriously? Brussels sprouts? Murder? I thought there was supposed to be some sort of sacrifice attached to the whole process.

    • I know. I’m not sure how giving up absinthe, for example, would make me more spiritually focused, since it’s not something that distracts me.

      I don’t know if there has to be a big sacrifice involved, either—unless we count the Big One a couple days before Easter—but it is a fast, a time to set aside the material and go gamboling off in the altogether—whoops, inappropriate metaphor, sorry. 😉

  6. I tried to think of something clever to say in response to this, something worthy of the deep digging you did (and surely helped others do), but I guess I’ll settle for something simple & true: amen.

  7. Such a fantastic essay. You hit the nail on the head.
    As for us, we’re not of the smudge crowd but we do fully get behind Fat Tuesday as it always ends in our family with a round of paczkis.
    I love your idea of instead of giving up, doing something but either way, it does always end in guilt for me. I trip up the give up or don’t do the do and end up just feeling badly for it.
    As for paczkis, I never feel guilty about eating those bigger than your head donuts. I was born to be a polish catholic on fat tuesday.

  8. I don’t do the smudge, but I do do Lent.

    I’m also a big believer in giving stuff up ’cause, for a children’s book writer, I am choc-a-block with vices.

    So! No sweets. Also, no bacon (or, as I call it, meat candy).

    Wish me luck, and I shall do the same for you.

    • I imagine being a children’s writer is a lot like being a librarian—no one expects us to need a drink at the end of a long day, just leave the bottle, thanks . . .

  9. I enjoyed this post :). One New Year’s, about 8 years ago, I was walking in San Francisco and stopped to check out a bookstore window. One of the books prominently displayed in front had a title that was something like “No More Drinking, Smoking and Screwing.”

  10. I’ve been on a low-carb diet for almost six weeks now, so I figure I’m already good to go on giving anything up for Lent–except for my cravings for potatoes and pasta.

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