When I was in college, at the start of each Classical Styles Workshop class, my professor instructed us to focus our attention on her class only. "I know there's a show opening in 4 days, but it's time to concentrate on the task at hand." For the following 75 minutes, it was like pressing an imaginary pause button on everything but the classroom. Who was this woman kidding? There were term papers with impending due dates and late-night cramming after rehearsals and good heavens all that interest accruing on my student loan (!!!) -- even as I sat there trying to honor my dramaturgical present.
Now that I'm older, (degree and debt in tow) this is a practice I treat with more respect and careful maintenance as I volley from project to project, activity to activity. And it's really about letting go of all the pettiness (positive or negative) to give yourself completely to one thing at a time. I like that.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and, taking a (palm) leaf from Amanda
(and sending many good vibes and high-fives her way) I will eradicate bread from my diet during lent. Peace out, toast! Sayonara, Bagels! Don't cry for me, whole-wheat tortillas (I've already done enough of that). During The Plan I was hoping to lose a couple of pounds; yet, despite a 4-day gym regimen, nary a pound was shed. Thankfully, I didn't gain any weight, but that doesn't really make my vanity feel any better. Sorry. Giving up bread, I hope, will not only break my plateau, but with The Plan still in mind, I want to treat this as a serious goal and a strong test of will power, something I've lacked in the past.
According to the Christian tradition, Lent is the penitent preparation for Easter. I'm certainly no expert, and a bit of a rebel in regards to my religious upbringing, so while I think self-denial is silly logic in asking for forgiveness, I'd like to think the act of letting go is as much about repentance as it is asking for forgiveness. Every little bit helps. Kudos to you for giving up food, bad behavior, or addiction, but there's just as much to be celebrated in giving up bitterness for hope, sadness for joy. I'm slower than most anyway, finding more comfort in baby steps than big leaps.
My 40 days and 40 nights is about letting go. And if I can let go of bread (an absolute staple of my diet) for a little over a month, perhaps that can transition into Professor Gillespie's ideas of letting go of outside distraction. Concentrate on the task at hand, easy peasy. As Emerson said, "what lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."