Valuing Time, Valuing Self--Acedia


from Acedia and Me
Kathleen Norris

One of the first symptoms of both acedia and depression is the inability to address the body's basic daily needs. It is also a refusal of repetition. Showering, shampooing, brushing the teeth, taking a multi-vitamin, going for a daily walk, as unremarkable as they seem, are acts of self-respect. They enhance the ability to take pleasure in oneself, and in the world. But the notion of pleasure is alien to acedia, and one becomes weary thinking about doing anything at all. It is too much to ask, one decides, sinking back on the sofa. This indolence extracts a high price. Esther's [from The Bell Jar] desire to "do everything once and for all and be through with it" has all the distorted reasoning of insanity. It is a call to suicide.

The refusal of repetition--the refusal to the small details that make life livable. The refusal, for example, to practice the discipline of the Liturgy of the Hours can, for some, lead to acedia--particularly those who are bound by rules of an Order. But the refusal of the mundane--cleaning house, ironing clothes, being present to friends for conversation, all of these are like items on a checklist that show how far we have sunk into either depression or acedia. The difficulty, of course, is in the distinction between the two.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 6, 2009 7:09 AM.

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