Sunday, August 28, 2011
Just finished listening to Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris. Never heard of acedia, and it’s been around literally for ages. A malady of sorts afflicting solitaries like monks and hermits. It was considered a precursor to one of the 7 deadly sins - sloth. It’s a spiritual sloth.
What attracted me to it? The blurb mentioned daily boredom, so I immediately downloaded it and listened to it all this week. While I hate to admit I am ever bored (I choose to do nothing), that choice is what drew me to this. Depression, ennui, nothingness all try to be wrapped up into one big ball. But she really had a number of similarities in her life that related to me. Phrases like "Why bother making the bed, it will only need to be unmade later tonight". The lack of even body hygiene was mentioned, shaving, brushing teeth, showering become chores to avoid. Why Bother and Who Cares are common. The desire to avoid repetition was a real kicker to me because I couldn’t figure out why I avoided doing things, stacking materials, constructing quilt blocks differently…not following the same routine. I had recently been puzzled about this and then all of a sudden this author gives it a name - acedia. So how do I separate this from just depression? The latter is a chemical imbalance and acedia is a choice. But if I go back to Wayne Dywer’s Excuses Begone, the act of choice and attitude can change DNA and brain function. SO does that mean that someone's bipolar disorder could have been a choice? Could depression be a choice?
I remember after my hysterectomy I was a basket case and in my mind I kept hearing “Suzy, snap out of this! You are better than this,” and I chose to ignore it. I wanted to be depressed. Even though I hated it, it was my choice. Maybe I was trying to punish outside forces in my life - Wayne, our financial circumstances, work…instead of looking inside of myself and realizing it was all on me. The comment about Norris hating the woman she sat next to because her jaw kept popping as she ate. But aren’t autistic people wired to react to outside disturbances like that? Do they have a choice?
Boy this is really big to me. I have been trying to figure out how I can continue to work, tutor, exercise, meet friends, and still feel incomplete, I sit and watch mindless TV, while avoiding quilting and reading and writing. - those things I claim to love doing. I seem to crave having a schedule but avoid repetition.
So, what do you think? Has anyone else heard of this or relate to it?