I've never been fond of New Year's Resolutions - they strike me as a bit self congratulatory, "Look at me, see what I will do now!" and are often preceded by a Mardi Gras of over indulgence in whatever will be forsaken come the stroke of midnight. However, I have a growing appreciation for Lenten fasts, despite the pre-fast sort of Mardi Gras excess in which some indulge.
Lenten fasts come with a pre-determined expiration date, at the end of which is an excellent time for reflection and re-appraisal. Many give up chocolate or alcohol, obvious indulgences. Some impose stricter spiritual regimens, a period of dedicated devotion, etc. Whatever you give up or commit to, it seems to me, the defined period of just a few weeks gives an excellent start to a new habit without the pressure of keeping it up indefinitely.
With something of a sea change coming in our national obsession, I've already decided what my Lenten fast for 2009 will be. I am not getting a digital converter box for my bedroom television (I know, some of you have just drawn an audible breath considering the decadence of having a television in the bedroom). But I very rarely watch it anywhere else and I am getting sick and tired of the slutty smutty commercials that are prevalent in late night viewing (I watch some television on getting home from the hospital most nights) and the digital conversion seems an excellent time to make a change.
So, a pre-Lenten ease into the fast will occur for me on February 17 and come Ash Wednesday, the bedroom television will no longer receive a signal from anything but my DVD player. Otherwise, I don't even plan to get my news from the television. If anything life-influencing happens, I am bound to hear about it on the radio, right?