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March 7, 2014

NASH: I give up

— Earlier this week marked the beginning of the Lenten season. The days between Ash Wednesday and Easter when Christian religions set aside time for fasting or other abstinence.

Through the years different interpretations of what is exactly expected of  believers has been observed. Nowadays people are expected to “give up” something they enjoy for the next six weeks.

Traditionally the something that is to be given up for Lent is something that you enjoy or that maybe isn’t that good for you. Some people give up chocolate or other candies or treats that bring them joy throughout the year. Others may decide to quit drinking alcoholic beverages or stop eating out as their penance. Many people, especially those of the Catholic faith, give up meat  on Fridays which gives rise to local “fish fries” and the annual Two for $4 filet-o-fish at McDonald’s.

In the modern era there are people I know that have given up some of the technologies that they have gotten used to. Maybe they have gotten rid of that telephone that so many people seem to have permanently attached to their hands or quit social media cold turkey. I know several people that this would probably be a good idea for them to think about.

Although I have considered it on several occasions, I have never successfully ‘given up’ anything for the entire Lenten season. I am sure if you asked the ones around me they could make up a list but I don’t feel like I need to give up anything. Instead I am going to use the next six or so weeks as a time of reflection and improvement of myself.

The first thing I am going to try to do is try to get out a little more. Over the last few weeks with the poor weather I have been cooped up inside of my house for days on end. Most of the time only getting to leave for work. Since the spring season will shortly be upon us it will be a great time to get out and get some fresh air especially when it warms up.

I look forward to catching up on my yard work when all of this snow is finally gone for good. The first snow that fell last December there were still some residual leaves on many trees and the weather hasn’t cooperated to get them all disposed of properly. It also won’t be too long before it is time to get out the lawn mower and start cutting the grass again.

 If the weather doesn’t cooperate and I am forced to stay inside much longer the one thing that I would like to do is read a little more. Over the last several years I have made lists of books I am interested in reading and I am ready to tackle that list. Some of the books I have started already and I never got around to finishing. A few years ago I was on a good pace to have read every  one of  John Grisham’s novels but he started writing them faster than I was reading.

One thing I guess I could give up is procrastination. If it were an Olympic event, I think I might make the podium. I think my wife and our cat would agree that I could be a little more diligent in changing the cat litter. I could also get my clothes folded in a timely manner and get a little more organized.  Finishing this weekly column at reasonable hour would also be a good step in the right direction.

The one thing that everybody will be giving up this weekend is that extra hour of sleep we all lose every year when the clocks “Spring Forward.” I looked down at the clock in my car and realized I hadn’t even changed it from when we turned back the clocks last fall.

Many people complain how their body can’t adjust properly each year when we change time, but it sure beats the alternative. Without the time change in the middle of the summer the sun would be coming up at an unreasonable hour and it would be totally dark around 8:30 p.m. in this part of the world. About the time each year that I think it is getting dark at the wrong time or the sunrise is too early the time change seems to make everything better. If your body has trouble adjusting to the difference try taking a nap or going to bed an hour earlier.

Over the next six weeks there will be a lot of people giving up things as they celebrate the Lenten season. You don’t have to go to church or be religious at all to try to improve yourself if just for a short period of time. Maybe by altering your behavior for a few short weeks, you can get in a pattern of  habits that will help you throughout the rest of the year.

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com

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