I've never really considered myself an overly "religious" sort. I think it comes from an experience I had in my mid-teens when I found myself going to church and watching all these people "going through the motions", as I saw it at the time. They would recite similar passages every week, and you could tell those who were simply rambling on from memory when a slightly different text was introduced. You know, they read the following sentence as they had the week before, only the selected version of the text was only slightly different enough to be just that. While those who were reading continued on by the text, those who were reciting from memory were caught not paying attention, and it was painfully obvious. This was only one example of the number of people I saw "going through the motions". Sometimes I felt that the clergy would do much of the same, with the same inflections on the same words, verbatim from last week. They were reading what seemed to me to be sacred words, words to be honoured and respected, not rambled off.
You often hear the story of the parishoner who dozes off during a lengthy and sometimes boring sermon, well... that happened too.
I've had a lot on my mind over the last week or so, and as I sit here in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, my thoughts have turned to prayer. I think sometimes quite seriously about my own spirituality and my approach to living life. Sometimes I wonder if I'm that very parishoner who, instead of blindly reciting words of worship, am blindly making my way through life. Sure, I'm aware of a lot of things around me, and some would agree that I'm among some of those more "self-aware".
I'm preparing for a rather dramatic change in my lifestyle right now, and it has me thinking of such things as how I conduct my life - most specifically my daily practices.
Am I paying them all the attention they so richly deserve?
I speak specifically about daily habits like domestics - quite literally, keeping house. I'm not always the most organized fellow, and every so often it causes me enough grief that I sit up and take notice.
Also, things like keeping my health. Last year at this time I remember being almost hyper-focused on it. I was on top of my regular chiropractic programme, massage therapy treatments each week and yoga. By the end of November last year I'd let a number of those things slide - like the parishoner who goes through the motions. Sure, I was "religious" about visiting the chiropractor, but all the supporting activities became very hit-and-miss.
I cleaned the inside of my van yesterday and found myself, quite literally, not satisfied. Everything was wiped down, the floor and seats vacuumed, but I started to flip out because now that it was "mostly clean", the few specks that remained stuck in the carpet, or the stains left behind from a beverage spilled were driving me completely bonkers.
Then it hit me.
Am I becoming a perfectionist?
I thought about it.
I remember when I first started working with sound systems and electronics. I, at 16 or 18 years of age, had the best sounding stuff. I was so fixated on the quality of gear I used that nothing else mattered. I was a perfectionist at 18, only I didn't have enough energy nor interest to carry it through all aspects of my life. It took so very much personal energy to maintain perfection in my area of interest that I found it impossible to be that way in the areas of tidiness, wardrobe (and that's a biggie for me right now - people who dress like they're "put together" impress me, whereas I, for as long as I can remember, have been quite satisfied with much less), academic study and so forth.
So here I sit, thinking about all the areas in which I've been "going through the motions". Maybe with a little more focus and some genuine prayer, starting from the inside working out, it will all come together.
Step One, back to bed for some much-needed sleep.
Turtle out - sans spell-chek