Thursday, October 23, 2008

RandomBliss: Declaring War on Your SlothChick

The Sidewalk Trail at our peninsula.

Listening to: This is a strange little video (especially the sudden ending), but I so love her music.

Bliss: It's only 44 degrees today, but the sun is bright and strong. Lovely. Cats are pleased and so am I!

My SlothChick is super strong today. Obviously, since I'm only getting to this post at eight minutes past noon. A very late start indeed. And though I know what I want to write, making myself do it has been like walking through a river of molasses.

SlothChick has been whispering her sweet nothings to me all morning: "One more look at your reader -- maybe there's something there that will inspire you to write." (Yeah, what a line -- I've never heard that one before.) "Oh, the sun...just lay your head down on your cat's pillow right there and soak up that sun..."

"Writing? That sounds too HARD. Let's just read a book or eat something."

I want her to go away, but she's so determined and I do feel a bit on the sleepy side today...

Aruna, from Teaching Kids Yoga, summed this up best in a comment on this Tuesday's post:

My teacher always says the work of the mind, to think new thoughts, is more exhausting than physical labour. I've found this to be true, getting started is a real battle, it takes a lot of energy.

Though SlothChick is strong, I am stronger if I make the effort, if I set my intentions; otherwise, SlothChick can easily become my point of departure for all kinds of self-destructive and non-productive behaviors.

Sloth, for example, is included in the traditional list of seven deadly sins. Wait! Don't cringe at those words...

Let's get past some language blocks and preconceived notions here.

First, I would like to point out that every single religion on this planet has something to teach us. (This seems an obvious thing to say, but we don't always act this way.) Within every single tradition, there always resides thinkers and mystics from whom we can learn -- if we are open to seeing past the dogma to the theology and the philosophy.

Everyone is trying to find the same things after all -- love and acceptance and peace. (Some just take very winding paths that obscure this from others' views.)

Second, the word "sin" carries a lot of negative connotations for a lot of us. But I've always felt there was something important trying to express itself in that word, and then I read the definition by St. Aquinas.

"Sin" is "misdirected love." Wow.

Think about that. How many of your actions and thoughts that lead to suffering and disconnect can be defined as "misdirected love," whether toward self or other?

So, the seven deadly sins are seven types of misdirected love that create disconnection between you and the divine, whether you believe that divine resides within you, without you, or both.

They are seven mindsets that can destroy your capacity for love and therefore deplete you of the necessary energies to know or walk your life's path.

Like Aruna says, this is harder work than anything physical.

What about sloth, in particular, is so awful that it threatens our very souls/spirits/essences?

In the collection of essays, The Seven Deadly Sins, Evelyn Waugh asks that same question:

St. Thomas's answer is both comforting and surprising: tristitia de bono spirituali, sadness in the face of spiritual good. Humans are made for joy in the love of God, a love which humans express in service. If we deliberately turn away from that joy, we are denying the purpose of our existence. The malice of Sloth lies not merely in the neglect of duty (though that can be a sypmtom of it) but in the refusal of joy. It is allied to despair.

When we give into SlothChick, even for a moment, we are denying our BlissChick.

I'll say this a million more times, I'm sure, but as the Dalai Lama says, "Constant effort." Not "Sometimes effort." Not "Effort When You Feel Like It." Not "Effort When Everything Is Going Your Way and The Sun Is Shining."


We must declare nothing short of spiritual warfare on our SlothChicks.

We are talking about knowing our path and then saying "but I will not walk it today."

What? We don't have time for that. We have limited moments and so much to do. So many paintings to create and so many books to write and so much love to share.

This life we have been given is a beautiful thing, even when it is hard. We are here to say "yes."

You feel SlothChick coming on? Kick her to the curb. Get moving. Do what it takes.

No one ever said it would easy, but it will be worth it.


ecoyogi said...

Your reminder about what sin really is (via Aquinas) is really helpful and timely. I've been sick *all* week, and I can feel how much of a payoff my SlothChick is getting. I haven't done a bit of writing, though I've had time and am not completely out of commission. On the other hand, I'm allowing myself time to do something so important that I don't get to in a normal "productive" week: reading. For hours at a time!

As one who is trying to become a laboratory, in my own body/mind, for the being/doing conundrum I'm not sure that the war metaphor works. Unless I can make war with love! Sometimes that's all the SlothChick needs--nurturing, knowing she's not *bad*. And sometimes that does mean curling up in the sun with my dog and giving myself some much needed time to Be in the presence of my Self. The one that is caring and generous...even with me.

How do others navigate this in a world that honors material creation (even if it's "spiritual") over consciousness itself? It is my biggest struggle.

blisschick said...

Usually, I wait to respond, but I think it might be important to clarify a few points/terms.

In my original version of this post, I had some sentences that I took out about the nature of sloth, namely that sloth is NOT about rest and rejuvination. As Waugh points out, it's totally about the denial of joy, and very, very often, joy comes from those very slow and beautiful things. When we, as a culture, think of rest and rejuvenation as "lazy," it reminds me of our Puritan/Protestant beginnings. Idle hands are the devil's tools and all that. But, as Aruna says, spiritual work is much harder than physical labor.

And the word "war," I believe, is a great metaphor for how serious this work is. I think of the Bhagavad Gita -- a text that is written completely in war metaphor to teach us about our internal demons and how they must be fought and defeated.

When you curl up on the couch with your dog, you're not nurturing SlothChick but rather BlissChick, because in that moment, you are totally saying "yes." SlothChick prefers the word "no."

epiphanygirl said...

I love your call to kick SlothChick (great name!) to the curb. I spent a good bit of yesterday doing some organizing around the house and listening to one of Caroline Myss's lectures. She introduces a necessary amount of "get over it!" thinking that is meant to give you the stamina to really find your true self. I really like the way your post echoes that.
On the slothier side of things as I was looking something up in a Stephen Cope book tonight I thought about his calm voice and his great stories and wondered if he ever had those days when it just seemed easier not to practice all that he preaches. It seemed liberating to just think of him saying "screw it!" He's human, so I am sure he does, but I am thinking it is way more important to focus on your idea of "constant effort" than it is to try to think of potentially sublime slackers!
Thanks for the great food for thought. --Marisa

Val said...

This is yet another great post. This is just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

megg said...

fabulous and EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning - at 10am - still in my jammies and reading bloglines! - maybe there will be inspiration there - and there WAS!!!

I've been lounging with my Slothchick all week long. Today I think I will be strong enough to kick her out. (Or maybe give her a bathroom to clean as punnishment - giggle!)


Teaching Kids Yoga said...

Hopefully slothchick gets bored soon!

- Aruna