Thursday, January 6, 2011

Acedia and Vesuvius. Or Not.

//Acedia//: a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one's position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one's duties in life. Its spiritual overtones make it related to but distinct from depression.[1] Acedia was originally noted as a problem among monks and other ascetics who maintained a solitary life.

I think it's what they call the doldrums. Stupefying my brain, sucking up all my energy. Or maybe I just feel overwhelmed by life, like I do by cleaning. When the house is a mess, I tend to walk helplessly in circles. I mean this literally. I shuffle from the kitchen to my room to the girls room to the bathroom, noting everything and doing nothing.

I want my life to be so vastly different from the way it is. There are so many things I want to change but they feel scary or impossible or just flat out boring (organizing closets? I'd rather take a bullet to the bicep.) There's so much ground to be covered. I become unable to take a single step.

This post was going to be about acedia--about the fact that I can't finish reading a book or work on my writing or enjoy anything right now--not even chocolate, not even Firefly, not even shopping---because inside I am listless. But forget acedia, acedia was five minutes ago. Now my post is about this: I know that part of (all of?) happiness means embracing what you have. Fully. And loving and being grateful for what you've been given. I get that philosophy, you find it in basically every religion and I'm behind that. I've got it's back.

But isn't there also a point where you say, enough is enough? I mean, if everybody throughout time had just embraced what was instead of working for what might be, wouldn't we still be, like, wearing deer skin and sacrificing first sons and claiming primae noctis and all that? All the good changes, all the progress, that didn't come from accepting what was. Right?

Or maybe both are true? Maybe the key is to hold a space for loving what is and working toward what could be, both at the same time?

It's this that keeps me up at night: I want things to be different. I don't know if I can make them so. I will not be comforted by pithy sayings nor out-of-context bible verses because I know that some people go all their lives struggling for a thing they never get. I question my own ability to tell the difference between goals that should be worked toward and delusional, insane fantasies.

So there it is. If you find my pluck,or my compass, would you call me? I miss them, and I've got this big lily liver clouding all my vision.

Suddenly it seems to me that pluck and direction go hand in hand.

I am Vesuvius and I have acedia and I don't care. Get it?

More on acedia here.

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