The season of Advent begins today, the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In the Christian calendar, this is a season of preparation for the major holiday, and while popular culture celebrates it mostly with one-a-day treats for kids, grownup Christians sometimes honor this season in the same way that Lent is honored; by giving something up for the duration.
A very counter-cultural move, this is. No doubt about that. But I've found it useful in my life, and this year, it's computer games. It will be a great pleasure to return to my favorites on December 26; I'm looking forward to it already.
Why do I do this? There's the practical matter that during this busy time I can't afford the time I've been spending on games, and there's the spiritual matter that I want to focus on nature's beauty and family''s love in this season. But the major usefulness of this discipline is that it breaks habituations.
Habituations, the polite name for all the light-duty addictions that march through our lives, can be a problem. Although heroin or Alcohol or out of control sex can actually kill us, most of our hibituations merely lock us into be behaviors and bodily states which need some freedom.
A good cup of coffee in the morning is a wonderful treat, and relaxing with a few computer games is the same. But if I have trained my mind and body to ONLY wake up with a shot of caffeine, and ONLY relax with some mind-numbing computer games, I've lost a certain flexibility and freedom in my approach to life, and that's NOT such a good thing.
I aim to stay on my toes in the game of life, and that means not getting too set in my ways. Whether it's coffee or computer games, it's good to take a break and develop new strategies with regularity.