Farewell to Moderation
After polishing off a seemingly impossible quantity of fried batter, there’s the traditional 40 days of self-denial. Let’s ignore the fact that Lent is supposed to be about prayer and penance and focus on what it’s really become: a modern guise to focus on our favourite obsession- ourselves.
Shrove Tuesday: The Big Eat, whatever your style. Maybe the thin French crepe this year, with a squeeze of lemon and some sprinkled sugar. Otherwise it’s the American short-stack with maple syrup, bacon and blueberries. Regardless of your preference, Pancake Day has become another perfectly acceptable excuse for a day of blow-out, vomit-inducing, I-literally-can’t-eat-one-more-bite-but-ok-go-on-then-if-you’re-offering indulgence.
But wait, isn’t there that thing that comes afterwards? Yep. After polishing off a seemingly impossible quantity of fried batter, there’s the traditional 40 days of self-denial. Let’s ignore the fact that Lent is supposed to be about prayer and penance and focus on what it’s really become: a modern guise to focus on our favourite obsession- ourselves.
Most people I know have a modest commitment to the religious side of things. Instead, Lent is now a standard outlet for self -obsession to publicly manifest itself. It’s usually to do with our bodies. Most importantly, anyone within a mile-radius of the Lent-abstainer must listen to the accomplishments so far of said individual; otherwise the whole exercise becomes worthless. I have gone five days without eating a custard cream. Six days since my last cigarette. Seven days now without coffee, and guys, I feel amaaaaaazing.
But despite all of the ‘this is the best I’ve ever felt’, I’m not sure I know anyone who, having sworn off the booze for circa two months, has managed to see it through. The initial period is spent telling most people you know about how great life is without Diet Coke/red meat/[insert anything that makes life great], and the subsequent period quietly avoiding questions over where your commitment is when caught tucking into a Big Tasty (the one with bacon).
My theory is that we are now committing ourselves to some new circle of hell where we must perpetually dedicate time to the starvation-surfeit cycle. A few millennia ago, maybe is was the way we had to live: hunt an animal for days, catch it, kill it and eat it fast, before it was back to the chase. Cave men gorged themselves because they didn’t know when their next meal would be (that and no fridges). Could this be hard-wired into us? Because despite having a convenience store on every corner, a supermarket a few streets away, and online shopping with Ocado to boot, we still seem to gravitate towards this glut/denial routine.
However, if you’re still keen to give something up for lent, my advice is it might be self-defeating to attempt renouncing any of the following…
1. Swearing. Next time you feel like swearing, replace it with another word. Because saying ‘Dang’ is just so effective when you’ve stubbed your toe on the table leg again.
2. Alcohol. Moonies has never been so much fun.
3. Cigarettes. If you’re attempting to stop just for 40 days, I can guarantee the time you would have spent smoking will be replaced with time spent whining to your mates. If you want to quit, do it properly.
4. Chocolate/sweets/icecream/crisps/chips/anything that’s been in a deep fat fryer. There’s a reason we eat this food and it won’t go away over Lent.
5. Caffeine: Forget 9am.
6. Texting. Why would you give this up? Do you want to be a hermit?
7. Facebook. Sadly, ditto. Give up facebook= delete your social life. Don’t bother, you know you’ll always return.
But this is all a bit of doom and gloom. I’m going to propose some easier Lent options, opt- in will be simple and you won’t need to beat yourself up if you slip up here or there.
Revised Top Three: You Can Do It
3. Stop hating on Lana del Rey.
She might not be able to sing but she didn’t run over your cat and it’s not her fault the tube costs so much. If you find her face annoying, stop youtubing her.
2. Say no to Plastic bags
The first few trips to the supermarket and you probably won’t remember your chic tote bag, but just wedge your shopping into your pockets until it becomes routine. For extra fun, try leaving all excess packaging in the shop. Just not the stuff your ham was wrapped in.
I’m not on it myself so I can’t speak for its addictive qualities, but it looks a lot like the apex of modern self-obsession. Leaving something to the imagination may make for more fruitful real-life conversations too.
Good luck and happy abstention.
And remember, ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’.