Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Habit of Improvement

Last night when I did my examen, I was convicted that I had let the day slide by and spent too much time on the computer and not enough time being present in my home. My oldest son calls it "dissipation" -- meaning not decadence and orgies but rather, when your day sort of scatters into pieces and you don't "redeem the hours".

In some ways, it was understandable. I had managed a giant procrastination-buster the day before -- the celebrated dental visit -- and yesterday, was coming down with a cold yet went out and hacked at ice and snow on the deck for a couple of hours. Plus, Mario Party 7 arrived yesterday by UPS (my 10yo's late birthday present) and so the whole crew, besides me, was playing -- even Athanasius took a few hours off. So I don't think the kids were really harmed by my "absence".

Plus, I got a lot done, technically. YET.... I regret that when they came to share their excitement I would stare at them with blank, dazed eyes. Mea culpa. My old intemperance. It doesn't matter how worthwhile the actions are, it's a matter of priorities and keeping rein on myself. I did some damage to myself.

So last night when I reflected upon all this I realized that Charlotte Mason was right. We are stuck with the "habit of improvement" for the rest of our lives. Our self-will and passions will continue to trouble us until, as someone said, about 20 seconds after we die. Charlotte Mason said there was consolation in facing the fact and learning to find joy in our constant and continuous pursuit of progress.

I find that when I have worked hard to improve something, I love it more. I love my closet now, though it's by no means perfect yet. I love my deck, because I've worked so hard to keep that glacier manageable. So once I've acknowledged "This is my mission, should I choose to accept it" there is joy in the attempts.

Raphael's trying to turn off the monitor screen... a hint?? I wanted to get this out there, though, so I can remember it.

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