Monday, July 18, 2011

Discipline, Exercise, and Being Twenty-One

Being 21 has its advantages. If I was an American, I could smoke and drink. As it is, here in Canada, I've had those abilities for two years, and thankfully, neither's become a serious habit. It also has its disadvantages. To a certain extent, we are expected to be: mildly amoral, overly adventurous (especially with substance), daredevils, party people, pranksters, and short tempered. Despite the general consensus being that this is how people my age behave, no slack is given for these behaviours: we are simply pre-condemned for it. I'm 21, so it's common knowledge that I'm a heavy drinker, who parties every weekend, is "balls deep", as the modern expression is, in pronography or premarital sex or both. I must also be a pothead, and a short-tempered one, who spends his weekends building rediculous contraptions or jumping off of things which ought not be jumped off of.  Most of all, though, we are seen as undisciplined. That, for whatever reason, is perfectly acceptable.

The part about these characterizations that annoys me the most is how accurate some of them are. I do have a short temper, I did experiment with pot (no real interest in pursuing it again), and I do, as it happens, have a problem with pornography. The mental dissonance comes into effect when the characterization adds that we are proud of these traits, that they are badges of honour among our age group.

Truth is, none of them actually are. I don't know what about this age group makes so many people undisciplined, but it does. Most of us, if not at our moment of freedom at age 18, but certainly by my age, find indiscipline to be stale. I, for one, want to keep a clean, orderly house upon which to build a foundation for a clean, orderly life. The half-messy state of my current house is a perpetual source of frustration, when taken with the fact that I live with another man my age (slightly younger, to his credit), who doesn't share the same appreciation of organization and prefers leisure instead. I can relate; most days, I do too.

I reason that there is a link between a person's life, in whatever form that may take, and their leisure activities. I have a feeling, perhaps unfounded, that people whose social, spiritual, and personal lives are ordered, keep ordered houses and still have time to keep themselves entertained. Those with problems in any of those fields, though, need something to fill the gap.

I have seen, from time to time, especially in my room-mate, addiction-like qualities attached to certain activities. The old joke about the MMORPGs certainly holds water, as I know from personal experience how hard they are to put down, and that for good. I'm not saying that anything is inherently wrong with movies, books, television, music, or videogames. There's nothing wrong with alcohol or food, either. It is when one supplements an aspect of our lives that they become problematic. And some of the things we use to fill voids in our lives are inherently wrong. Like pornography.

In order to lead a disciplined life, staying on the road through the narrow gate, as it were, we need to have a good foundation, to have our many lives in order. Some of us need to examine our conscience to figure out what it is that is bothering us. Others have repressed the object of their discomfort or pain so deep that they don't even realize they're hurting.

I'll be writing a new post in the near future, somewhat longer, that explains a bit about theology of the body (and explains why one of my personal vices, Lust, is problematic) and talks about ways to bring discipline and order into a gravely disordered activity. For now, though, I offer this advice:

  1. None of us truly lacks the ability to lead an ordered, wholesome life, though none of us will ever be perfectly ordered and wholesome!
  2. All disordered living stems from an internal conflict. We do one thing to compensate for another lack. Often, but not always, the two are related. Many times they are not.
  3. Even the saints were not purely good. We shouldn't tie ourselves in knots over occasional moments of vice. (Sloth is a deadly sin, or so I'm told.)

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