I didn’t ask for much this Christmas (not much of a surprise huh?!) but ended up with a lot. Unwrapping the unasked-for, surprise presents was fun and the things i didn’t ask for are all very nice, but once i had flattened and put away the wrapping paper for next year and arranged the new things into an attractive pile out of the way of Rubio’s little hands, i couldn’t help but think that i didn’t really want these unasked for presents! Not because i’m ungrateful, grumpy or a humbug, nor because they weren’t desirable, sitting on the living room floor on Christmas eve night* i saw simply and clearly it was because i hadn’t desired them. I hadn’t wanted them so they didn’t satisfy any need or desire within me.
Am i becoming an ascetic? hmm, let’s look at good old Wikipedia…
Asceticism (from the Greek: ἄσκησις, áskēsis, “exercise” or “training“) describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals… refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. This is to be understood not as an eschewal of the enjoyment of life, but a recognition that spiritual and religious goals are impeded by such indulgence.
Those who practice ascetic lifestyles do not consider their practices virtuous in themselves, but pursue such a lifestyle to encourage, or ‘prepare the ground’ for, mind-body transformation.
In the popular imagination, asceticism may be considered obsessive or even masochistic in nature. However, the askēsis enjoined by religion functions to bring about greater freedom in various areas of one’s life (such as freedom from compulsions and temptations) and greater peacefulness of mind (with a concomitant increase in clarity and power of thought).
Rubio and I have been ill over Christmas, both down with a really nasty cold. Rubio recovered fast with the added help of my immune system through breastmilk. I however am still languishing. Well, i wish i could be languishing (it sounds relatively passive and restful no?) instead babies stop for no sick mother. Over the last week i have noticed a distinct craving to be alone and quiet, which last night made me think about that old fantasy i have when things in life get too much, of becoming a nun! Forgetting the rather big problem i’d have of having to believe in God etc, i find the idea attractive at certain times. I imagine peaceful, even silent days! I imagine sleeping every night! i imagine calm slow days filled with thought, quiet tasks, painting and gardening! I imagine having the energy to eat a full meal in the evening!
But in imagining this i thought of the things i wouldn’t have; Edward and Rubio, the things that make me happier than anything. My nun/hermit/ascetic alter-ego would be superficially happy but without my husband and child, without that love, i would be sad deep inside. And now, i am superficially tired, miserable with this cold, restricted in my actions in many ways, but deep inside i am glowing with happiness.
* German mother = presents on Christmas eve