Saturday, February 20, 2010

A strict bedtime

I rarely get enough sleep, but on those rare occasions when I am well-rested, I know I work better, pray better, and feel better. So I decided that during Lent it would be a nice idea to make myself get ready for bed at 9 pm every night unless there's some emergency. Theoretically I could implement that policy at any time, not just during Lent. But in practice, I haven't had the discipline to make myself do it any other time. When it's a sacrifice for Lent it's much more serious not to stick to it, and that gives me the extra motivation I need.

One of the prayers at Mass during Lent says, "Every year You give us this joyful season, when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with minds and hearts renewed...." It makes perfect sense. I feel like I have been given the gift of self-control, and I am pretty happy about it. My life became markedly more peaceful as soon as Ash Wednesday arrived.

One nice thing this bedtime does is make me less inclined to waste time through the rest of the day, knowing that I have a definitely limited number of hours to work with. Right now, for example, I'm going to finish this post in a hurry so I can try to decorate cookies and go jogging before 9 pm hits. Before Lent I'd have spent another hour easy, surfing the net and whatnot, and I'd have gone to bed at midnight and then I'd have gotten up late on Sunday, and I wouldn't have had time to pray before Mass-- and when I don't have my hour of prayer in the morning it usually doesn't happen at all, and then I'm out of sorts all day, doing nothing worthwhile because I'm too sleepy.... Going to bed late sets off a nasty little chain reaction. This way my whole day has a different feel to it.

But now that I'm getting a decent amount of sleep, something else has to give, and it's shaping up to be... blogging. Writing posts takes too darn long when I'm watching my hours, so there'll probably be fewer of them till Easter. If I didn't proofread there'd be no problem, but I can't stop myself from correcting and adding and subtracting and re-reading the darn thing for the tenth time.

And Jen does a better job anyway:

Life before modern technology was full of hard stops: the work day ended at sunset -- if you didn't finish laundry during the day there was no going back outside to the washboard at 9:00 at night; the work day began at dawn -- if you got breakfast on the table an hour late that was precious time cut out of you and your family's very finite workday; even finances had hard stops -- when you spent your last dollar there were no tempting "0% interest for six months!" credit card offers waiting in your mailbox. And with a life full of hard stops, even the most disorganized, scattered people must have been forced to have some kind of routine, and to limit their to-do lists. Even people as inept at time management as I am must have been gently reminded to get to a stopping point and wind down their projects each day as the sunlight began its slow retreat from the sky.

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