Monday, April 1, 2013

Lent 2013: Stairway to Heaven

I've challenged myself to blog every day in April, and asked my friends on Facebook and in a few other places to suggest topics and ideas to inspire me for thirty days. Today I'm not using any of the suggested topics, because yesterday was Easter Sunday, and I gave up something for Lent this year, and wanted to talk about it.

Last year I gave up candy, and argued that it sort of made me a better person. The year before I didn't give up anything, but I explained why I didn't, and I still stand by that choice. The year before that I gave up pop tarts, and that had about as much impact on me as giving up candy did: I learned that sometimes I want something and can't have it, but I'm not sure that really went very far toward bettering myself.

With that in mind, I decided to be thoughtful and deliberate about my choice this year, and do something that might actually lead to self-improvement. After thinking about it right up until the night before, I gave up sloth for Lent. That's not as easy as it sounds, especially for someone like me, who totally loves being slothful. I gave myself some guidelines, and tried to follow them:

1) Take the stairs whenever possible.

2) At stores, park far away from the door, for more walking.

3) Walk to meetings on campus, rather than driving from one side of campus to the other.

4) Get on a regular treadmill routine.

Now that Lent is over, I can report on how I did:

Not bad, but not that well. I was not nearly as successful as I have been with past resolutions.

Taking the stairs: This is where I was most successful. I learned this year during Lent that there are 77 stairs between my parking space and my office, and most of the time they look like this:

my shadow

While I did take the stairs every morning to work, I didn't always take them everywhere. I was successful here, but not always consistent. For example, last week on break I didn't take them in the church. I also didn't always take them at lunch.

Park far away: This worked when I remembered to do it. It wasn't always first in my mind, so it didn't always happen.

Walk to meetings on campus: I was pretty consistent here, with the exceptions being that I accepted rides when they were offered and that I drove a few times when I wouldn't have made it in time on foot. I learned that I don't walk very fast anymore, and that I don't always wear the best shoes for it. I also learned that getting from my office to the University Center is sometimes a pain with all of the campus construction, and have a much better understanding of why our students are so irritated by it.

Get on a regular treadmill routine: I'm sad to report that this was a complete failure. I'll keep trying, because I really do need to exercise more, but I just haven't gotten there with this yet.

Overall, like I said, I was only partially successful this year. I did lose some weight, but not so much that people are like, "Oh, wow, look at all the weight you lost." I tried to use this to spur some new habits, but will have to watch over the next few months to see if any of those habits stick.

The main question, though, is the same one I've asked every year that I've done this: What, if anything, did I learn? I learned that giving up something that requires deliberate thought and consistent consideration is actually really hard, and I also learned that keeping a vow like this requires deliberate focus. I didn't always have it, but I can work on that.

I can also keep taking the stairs.

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