Friday, March 19, 2010

Discipline Part 2

Same root as disciple, or follower, or one who adheres to a discipline or faith.

Faith vs. Superstition? Sometimes I can't tell the difference. God vs. Magical Thinking? I want to have faith, but it's shaken when I try to reconcile that I also catch myself believing in black cats, lucky pennies and horoscopes. It's shaken when I can't reconcile all the horrible shit I see with the concept that some benevolent being is watching out for our best interests. It makes me feel simple and childish that my doubts have me returning to all these hackneyed arguments. I would prefer to say it all eloquently but the words aren't there. I would prefer to just believe.

And I fear the answers will never come unless I relent to absolute faith. Silly to fear abandonment by an entity that thus far has eluded me, but I am frightened to be wrong too. And I really don't want to believe that this is all there is either. I want desperately for there to be a rhyme and a reason for all this. And of course a salvation at the end, or the possibility of salvation.

A discipline is expected here.. the discipline to believe in and follow the faith, even when one can find no visible evidence. One is expected to go beyond logic and science. I struggle with that even though I witness a lot that defies logic, and beyond that there are scientific matters about which I remain agnostic.

A discipline of surrender and acceptance is expected. Get down on your knees and pray to him for strength. Do it daily. Do it hourly. Or as many times as you need to. Just do it. I am trying to make due with the serenity prayer, if only because I was told it was very very wrong to pray for anything more, because then you are just being selfish. Ignoring everything you should be grateful for. When you enter into the discipline of naming every little thing that you possess to be grateful for, I've read, you will find all the evidence of God that you require. That act in and of itself though requires more discipline than I often feel I am capable of, but I'm trying.

I am giving it my best shot, but that's not always so much. I am ashamed of this pride that stands between me and surrender and acceptance. I am mortified by the immensity of my ego. Ego is the the highest obstacle that one will face, it has been said, in the pursuit of happiness and peace. This discipline of daily self-examination makes me weary. Is this all just my ego? Self-doubt pervades even here.

But faith--I want to believe fully and wholly (holy?). I want to just exhale and give in to a higher power than my own. Even on the days though when any and every power seems higher than my own, the hurdle is there. Some days it is laughable and everything I want seems within my grasp. Then there are the interminable Days of Sisyphus when it's all I can do to keep it within the ditches. There are too many of these days. Of course I set myself up for them and everything on the back burners came to boil all at once. Too many kettles to manage it seems. Something is bound to get burned.

But of course the discipline of faith dictates that I accept that which is lost, and take care of what is within my power to save.

Conundrum... conundrum... The word sounds like a heartbeat.

Conundrum
Conundrum
Conundrum

Discipline

I Googled the word "discipline" just so I could get a quick, easy, succinct caption to open a bit what is to be my first missive in months. I might have just looked up "irony" because the result will require an awful lot of discipline if I'm to integrate it into anything coherent. Writing is a discipline though, like yoga, or a daily workout, or even a punishment if one is to delve into the verb... discipline.


dis·ci·pline
   /ˈdɪsəplɪn/ Show Spelled [dis-uh-plin] Show IPA noun, verb,-plined, -plin·ing.
–noun
1.
training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
2.
activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
3.
punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
4.
the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
5.
behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control: good discipline in an army.
6.
a set or system of rules and regulations.
7.
Ecclesiastical. the system of government regulating the practice of a church as distinguished from its doctrine.
8.
an instrument of punishment, esp. a whip or scourge, used in the practice of self-mortification or as an instrument of chastisement in certain religious communities.
9.
a branch of instruction or learning: the disciplines of history and economics.
–verb (used with object)
10.
to train by instruction and exercise; drill.
11.
to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
12.
to punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.

This will require more coffee. I will need more discipline. Self-discipline. I don't know if I'm ready for this. Maybe it's a cop-out to simply say that Dictionary.com covered all my bases. Someone got here before me and said it better than I could have anyway. Why bother?

Unless it becomes personal... Use discipline in a sentence, or perhaps a bunch of sentences, and see how many of the above permutations can be covered in one morning. Am I ready to go personal? Not yet. It's been a while.

Firstly, it's notable that discipline, if one is to read through all the possible uses listed above, that the line between a worthy endeavor or exercise and punishment is left rather undefined. That's funny actually. It's been a while since I've strained, and grunted and farted through a round of morning calisthenics, but if memory serves it always seemed a cruel joke I was playing on myself. I never looked in the mirror after a workout and saw that glow of self-satisfaction I see on the faces of people leaving gyms all over New York City. No, in fact the face in the mirror was never more than a mask of grim determination... of resignation... of where the hell are my cigarettes?

No, this is going to require more... something. I am, at least for now, going to have to read and re-read the definitions above, and think about how each one, and how each is directly applicable to some facet of my life that's been under intense examination. I have, similarly to many others, I suppose, let too much go for too long. A wiser soul would try to manage one thing at a time, but time seems short. There is a now or never pall over everything. That may or may not be true but a sense of priorities is lacking. It all seems equally desperate.

Some things prioritize themselves though, so for now it comes down the the daily routines that pay the bills... time to apply the instruments of punishment that make me fit for public consumption.

Selah