I've had one of those days at work. During lunch, I was answering a call, typing an email, and reviewing another document. You know, one of THOSE days. And I will be lucky if I catch up tomorrow.
After I polish off some more of this nonsense, I'm supposed to go to the gym. And run on the treadmill. Because apparently when life is a little more difficult than I would like it to be (and I guess I would like it to be pretty easy), I have some chocolate. I'm not talking about ten pounds of chocolate. I'm talking about some chocolate. I don't eat mostly broccoli, so I guess by today's standards I am basically poisoning myself, but honestly I do not eat that much food most of the time. (Though I suspect my thyroid dose needs to be tweaked. Meaning at least two medical appointments and many hours in traffic. I'll get to it.) Nevertheless, I am not in the best shape and I'd like to have less cellulite than I do and half of my suits don't fit and that makes me sad.
What I want to know is, if I put in a really diligent day at work - meaning that I force myself to focus on things that I don't really want to do, for hours and hours - and then I do my hour-long commute, and then I get home and do the laundry or wash the dishes or water my garden and weed and stake the cornstalks that are falling over or make a big batch of dinner or finish the insulation on the porch or sand, treat, and paint the back steps or any of the dozens of other labors that are on my list - why am I not automatically in perfect shape?
This is a genuine question.
I understand that, as a matter of biology, editing other people's work product for ridiculous typos and bad logic doesn't burn a lot of calories. But I really don't enjoy it. And I force myself to do it anyway. We each have a limited store of willpower, and while a spiritual director will tell you that the more you exercise your willpower, the more you have, that is simply a ridiculous lie. Maybe it's true that exercise increases your capacity to use willpower, but on any given day, grinding yourself into productivity has a natural limit after which you actually are going to eat ten pounds of chocolate. I know this for a fact because I have tried to work 14-hour days and also eat healthy and go to daily Mass and go for a run many times. It does not work.
I want to know why, if I abuse my psyche into strain and tedium for hours upon hours, why do I have to abuse myself (with condemnation. "You great pig! How dare you complain about how your suits don't fit? You're LAZY. Think about what people in third-world countries have to endure! You're lucky you even have a gym to go to! You're lucky you have legs to run on at all! You could be handicapped! You're an ungrateful wretch! With love handles because you have no self-control or good sense and your diet is disgusting and you act like it's a monumental effort to run 20 minutes of intervals on the treadmill! GO RUN RIGHT NOW!") just so I don't have to hate myself for not being a size 4 any more?
For the record, I don't feel good about myself after I go to the gym. Or daily Mass. Or after I eat a salad and skip the chocolate (actually, I feel severely sad about that, so much so that I will almost certainly have the chocolate later). I feel good about only one thing: the abusive voices will be silenced until tomorrow.
The problem with the life of virtue, to my way of thinking, is that it is a failure model, not an accomplishment model. I like anything with an accomplishment model. "Look! You spent twenty hours in the last month working on this wretched garden plot! And it looks stunning! Four people just said so spontaneously!" "Hey! You worked hard all semester, and spent hours reading obscure references so you could write a brilliant final paper! Then you managed your time well and got it written when you had a clear head, and a day left to go back and edit! You got the only A in the class! You win!" "You've been in the kitchen all day in the heat while other people were lounging. But you made magnificent cookies and everyone loves them and thinks you're brilliant!" I will work until I fall over if at the end of a manageable period, I WIN.
Virtue is a lack-of-accomplishment model. "You got up this morning on four hours' sleep to get to daily Mass? Great. But you were late, weren't you? And how closely did you pay attention? Were you recollected at the consecration? Do you remember what the readings and the homily were about? HOW MANY ROSARIES HAVE YOU PRAYED TODAY? Oh, you think you're a saint because you managed to show up for 18 minutes of Mass? Sure, that sounds like sanctity to me."
I think I should just be fat.