Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Don't Read This Book

That is, unless you want to be thrust into the introspective state the Matron is currently occupying.

She is reading The Spirituality of Imperfection, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham (and if it wasn't 11:40 pm, she'd add a pretty picture of the cover -- hopefully words will suffice).

This is one of the most though-provoking books she has read in a long, long time. It is both uplifting and sobering. Just like life.

Yours truly is currently traipsing through a section on fourth century monk Evagrius Ponticus. She dares anyone to add Evagrius to their list of potential baby names. Anyway, long before it became stylish, Evagrius thought to spoil all fun by creating the list that preceded -- and perhaps inspired -- the seven deadly sins. He detailed these sins not as 'sins' of action, but as wrong ways of seeing and being in the world, loosely collected under the master title of "logismos." Logismos "involves choosing to see the bad -- bad in the sense of unreal, not fitting reality. Old Evagrius was a little more complex than outlining Bad Things Not to Do but instead painted an entire erroneous reality, one based on self-centered longing and flagellation.

His "traps of thinking"?

Fornication (as in obsession with body parts not love, love between a couple)
Acedia (listlessness)
Vainglory ("daydreaming about one's magnificence and imagined glory")

This list gave the Matron pause. Because she herself is writ large within it.

Vainglory? Why, one of the Matron's favorite activities is daydreaming and boy, oh boy, is she magnificent and glorious in those fantasies. Indeed, she cultivates these, exercises by them, indulges in little doses of unreality by imagining herself Famous, Rich, and Cultivated. It does not escape her that Fame is one of Merrick's most valued aspirations.

Merrick: "Mom? If I buy a winning lottery ticket will I be famous?"

Matron: "Not the dollar kind."

Merrick: "Oh. How can I get famous? Will it happen quick?"

Ah, what a good little American she's raising. Yet not only does she share Merrick's peephole into the world of plentiful attention, she actively daydreams about it. Only her fame isn't the Entertainment Tonight kind.

Instead, one of the Matron's fondest daydreams? She's at Whole Foods, at the checkout line. For some archaic reason, she writes a check or the cashier actually looks at the name on her card.

Cashier (instantly humbled and awed): "Are you Mxx Matron, the writer?"

Matron (feigning same humility): "Yes."

Cashier: the following is too long for dialogue as a cascade of accolades and admirations follow, wherein the Matron's work is noted as superb and of course, the cashier's favorite.

Sigh. All it takes is one person to make her day.

But the Matron has long been a fan of Magical Thinking, her name for this pleasure. While she's once again taking herself in hand -- or at least observing her actions --in regard to the rest of Evagrius' list, she can't help but wonder: what harm?

For the time being, she plans to stick with the Magical Thinking and maybe call it Creative Visualization (thank you, Shakti Gawain) so then it will be all right.

But envy? Another, less frivolous story. Coming tomorrow in the week of introspection.


Catherine said...

I'd really like to read some of your stories (other than your blog - actually I mean 'as well as your blog'). Do you have any links?

trash said...

One's internal monologue is quite often the most entertaining thing going on. I defend my right to have one and participate in it fully whatever old Egregious thinks. Anyway what did they know in the fourth century?

Irene said...

Wishful thinking is one of my most playful habits and it keeps me out of trouble. It all takes place in my head and it stays there much to my amusement.

Minnesota Matron said...

Hi Catherine,

Blush! I've actually written a couple of novels, essays, newspaper articles etc., all published of course except those dratted novels! Here's an excerpt I put on the blog.


Suburban Correspondent said...

St. Therese (the "Little Flower") has a glorious quote about imperfection - something along the lines of we glorify our Creator with our imperfections...must find it...