(Originally published July 5, 2013 at Trojan Horse Productions.)
There is a song from The Sound of Music that relates; it concludes, “… I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad.”
Wednesday morning I stood outside McDonald’s having my last smoke before leaving. I considered that as soon as I got to the library, I’d need to count my pennies and plan spending for the rest of the week. I pondered whether or not to buy a soda on my way there. I’d had some unusual spending earlier in the week, and faced some more unusual spending in connection with the 4th of July (The library’s closed.). The wisdom of having bought or not bought a soda at this time would depend on the outcome of that planning.
I decided not to buy a soda at this time. If I had enough cash left, according to the plan, I could enjoy a soda later in the week.
This isn’t sacrifice; that’s a topic I must discuss in later posts. It’s a matter instead of delaying gratification; a decision to forego a pleasure now for the sake of possibly having the pleasure later. This is an important strategy in learning stewardship (right management of one’s resources) and in improving one’s lot in life.
It still leaves me without a soda, when I want a soda. What to do?
One way to cope is to think about how much I will enjoy having the soda, once I can have it.
By analogy, on a hot summer day, if I want an ice cream cone and can’t have one at the moment, I can fantasize about how much I’ll enjoy having the ice cream cone once I can have it.
I will fantasize not just seeing it, but holding it in my hand — feeling the feeling of holding it in my hand; seeing it up close to my face; turning it around; licking it; feeling the cold creamy material on my tongue; tasting the ice cream; feeling and hearing the crunch of the cone when I bite into it; tasting the cone.
I can derive so much pleasure from this fantasy, it’s practically just as good as having the ice cream cone in real life.
Robert Leichtman once counseled me to meditate upon the 23rd Psalm. As to “He makes me lie down in green pastures,” he said to involve all five senses in my imaging: feel my limbs like those of a sheep lying down; see, feel and smell the grass; see the dew. This was not an exercise in visualizing prayer; it had nothing to do with becoming a sheep! It had to do rather with choosing a desired form and state for my spiritual energies.
By the same token, this exercise does not guarantee I’ll ever get my ice cream cone. But if it enables me to feel good, and to have positive energies, and to face my current tasks (what I can do here and now) in a favorable light; it’s worth it.