First of all, I’m aware we’re supposed to be in the ashes-on-the-forehead part of the Lenten season, if you’re one of the people who participates in that particular religious season. But I don’t have any ash pictures to festoon this post, and also I believe in festooning, and ashes just don’t do that. Ever. But there is the bowl full of Christmas ribbons and the masks a kid brought home from a trip, so what better festoon-ish thing than THAT, I ask?
Second of all, I’d also like to say that I’m not very fond of the ashes-on-the-forehead anyway. Probably this is because my mother never took us to the Wednesday mass where they rubbed the ashes into your forehead. This wasn’t because Wednesdays were inconvenient either. After all, she took us to everything else, being a woman who totally touched all the bases as she hit the grand slam homer that is the Catholic mother who gets five children to church ever single Sunday of their childhood. Plus, a couple of us were confirmed, even though I’m pretty sure we weren’t really feeling it. My small act of confirmation rebellion was to give myself a boy’s name (I believe I chose Nathan), just so I could bug the bishop who was there to confirm us. My friend, Margaret Daheim was, I believe, Nicholas.
I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t like the ashes because they were a downer. Lent’s enough of a downer, what with all the fish and the giving up of chocolate. This Lent, I figure it’s enough to plunk the bowl of ribbons and the mask right in the middle of the living room, so we can all remember that life’s a silly enough affair, and we should never take anything too seriously, and never so seriously that we smudge burnt up things on our foreheads.
Which brings me to Montaigne (a book! yes! a book! It’s like I’m sneaking ground up carrots into your jello or something.) I recently read Sarah Bakewell’s really terrific biography of Montaigne (Michel, de). And one thing I wrote down, because I liked it so much (and I ended up liking HIM so much) was this thing he said, which is directly applicable to not taking oneself too seriously:
“If others examined themselves attentively, as I do, they would find themselves, as I do, full of inanity and nonsense. Get rid of it, I cannot without getting rid of myself. We are all steeped in it, one as much as another, but those who are aware of it are a little better off — though I don’t know.” -Montaigne
So: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Change your mind every once in a while (“though I don’t know”). And eat some chocolate.
Have a fabulous weekend.