Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Art of Cessation

I was raised in the old school. In summary, it went like this:

Each day strive to learn something new. Do good work. Finish what you start. Keep at it and never give up. And no matter what the discouragement, strive to keep on with the keeping on.

Cessation? Wasn’t taught that. And when encouraged, it was encouraged in such an oblique way, who could possibly understand or apply it?

For instance, I was told I must stop stealing cookies from the cookie jar. But having no knowledge of how to do the cessation thing, the only method that worked was for Mother to put them on a higher shelf, lock them up, or physically chase me off with a paddle.

There was no heal. There was no cure. And there was no cessation of cookie-stealing as long as those cookies were within reach.

And of course, I was encouraged to cease biting my fingernails. But because I bit them owing to the guilt of stealing cookies, and I bit them even more because I had no methodology for the cessation of stealing cookies, what else could I do but continue to go on biting them?

These then were the desired cessations, but so few, so minor. Anomalies really. Because it went without saying that to cease anything when once committed too was a bloody shame.

So now where am I?

Can’t cease anything. Can’t stop drinking too much coffee. Can’t deny myself cholesterol rich foods. Can’t ease up on the salt. Can’t force myself away from the computer.

So now, whose fault is that? Certainly not mine. “Cessation” just never was a part of my education. Not in primary school, or elementary school, or even high school. We were still doing the same old thing about getting started and never giving up.

And so, I wonder if that is why it is so hard for so many to cease drinking, gambling, drugs, radical sports, fast driving, and all the other foolishness that entraps people in ways that are harmful to life, limb, and health. And poor souls, without an education in ‘cessation’, there is no way for them to cease doing what they are doing. Rather there is just the push of that other thing of striving, striving, striving to keep on with the keeping on.

‘Cessation’ of anything pretty much runs contraire to that fast-held-to principle of just ‘bloody getting on with it’. And so ‘cessation’ was missed and I think it is still being missed. But despite all that, I feel that somehow there must be a positive methodology for ‘cessation’.

If I only knew what it was, I’d have my cholesterol count back within reason by next Tuesday.


Dick said...

What a fascinating notion, Roberta - the promotion of relentless doing that is at the heart of the protestant work ethic as explanation of dependency. And it makes a whole lot of sense. We lack entirely that Eastern capacity for the stillness that comes with recognising completion, letting go. Good thoughts here, Roberta.

Pauline said...

How right you are - the "just do it" western notion is exhausting as well as counterproductive to just being. We'll have to cogitate on a methodology of cessation equal to the one of do, do, do! Meanwhile, stop counting cups of coffee and your cholesterol numbers.

Roberta S said...

Thank you for visiting Dick. Your comment spurred me to the realization that there our some cultures that understand 'cessation' in a way that is truly remarkable. Maybe it is time to leave the determined work ethic behind and delve into yoga or some form of meditation.

Roberta S said...

Hi Pauline. Thank you for kicking in to help to fine a cessation methodology. Don't strive or stick with the struggle too long, but if you do come up with something, please let me know. :)

joared said...

Well, you've certainly reinforced my mother's frequent saying, "Can't never did anything."

What is the criteria for determining when cessation should occur?

Roberta S said...

Hi Joared. I guess it's just when stopping is better than continuing on. Your mother's saying makes me laugh. That certainly simplifies what I was trying to say.