The Art of Noticing: Excess

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The Art of Noticing: Excess


It’ s Lent and most of my friends are giving something up. Sugar. Bread. Television.

Many a year I too have given things up for Lent. Yet I have to admit, even when I was a traditional pastor, I never really got the connection between forgoing Snickers for 40 days, and the suffering of a man who was crucified. I know it’s a lot more complicated than that, both in theology and practice. I know that theoretically the practice of fasting during Lent can connect us to our mortality, help us see the need for forgiveness, and make us more aware of the suffering of others. But for me, well, it always just felt like “New Year’s Resolutions: Round Two.”

This year as a part of my post-Christian reality I’m finding a spirituality that fits— even around Lent. As a part of that journey, I’ve been thinking a lot about Excess. Here in America, even when we are in lean times there is still Excess. Excess worry. Excess entertainment, drinking, and junk food to numb the worry. Excess outrage at the power-that-be. The modus operandi for our consumerist culture is “MORE”. So much so that even in times of crisis, we find ways to over-indulge

So for Lent, I thought I would spend some time noticing the Excess in my own life. Then I thought I’d ask God-and-the-Universe to show me how I might both release the Excess and transform it into Abundance for someone else during this giving season. It’s an experiment. I want to get curious, don’t you? So here it goes–my list of *8Things that I have too much of in my life.

*8Things: Excess

1. Televisions/Movies:  I don’t have a TV, but damned if I don’t consume a lot of movies and shows on Hulu and Netflix.
2. Email. Not sure what to do about that one.
3. Sugar. I’m not supposed to eat it, and yet is is always in my house.
4. Sleep. I could really stand to be a bit more of an early riser.
5. Negative Self Talk. Wow. There would be so much more productivity in a day if I didn’t spend this much time with my Gremlins.
6. Debating About What’s The Most Important Thing to Do Next. (See number 5.)
7. Diet Coke. I quit it like most people quit smoking. It’s snuck back in.
8. Toiletries. Why do I keep buying lotions and potions?!?!

Hmmm. It was harder to come up with *8Things then I thought. I guess my half-assed minimalism and determination to Do Less  has been effective. If I had made this list a year or two ago it would have involved lots more loot. (Especially clothes. My year without clothes really honed my closet down to an effective minimum.)

Based on the things I noticed here, the most logical thing to give up for Lent would be Television/Movies. Frankly I don’t feel strong enough to do that right now. It enjoy the escape at the end of the day, and having something on in the background is the only way I power through my most hated daily task — making dinner/cleaning the kitchen. Plus the $7.99 a month I spend on Netflix really wouldn’t make much of a dent in the Tsunami Relief efforts.

I’m leaning towards sugar. Sugar and Diet Coke. If I give these things up I can redirect about $10 a week towards a charitable cause. Plus both of these things are driving me more quickly towards death, so giving them up makes me more aware of my own mortality and my desire to not get there any sooner than necessary. (That’s kind of Ash Lent-ish, right?) So there we have it. I’m giving up sugar and Diet Coke for Lent.

I’m sure Jesus would be very proud. ;-)

*8Things iconWhat about you. What is your list of *8Things: Excess? What do you have too much of in your life? Where is there Excess that drains you? How can you transform your Excess into Abundance for others? You’re answers are sure to inspire us.  Grab a button and play along. If you put your list on your blog, give us the permalink (not your homepage address) in the Mr. Linky below. Thanks for playing!

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Cindy March 12, 2011 at 10:44 am

I was actually working on these same lines when considering a Lenten discipline, and thinking about the distinction between abundance (which I believe I am called to live in) and excess. Sometimes a fine line, although for me, excess leads to less connectedness, a desire for more, restlessness (not the good kind!), waste, and addiction. So my disciplines for Lent are about restoring a sense of abundance versus excess.

kraftykkitten March 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm

All posted!!

Missy March 16, 2011 at 10:40 am

I don’t observe Lent, but this post made me think. Becoming mindful of my excess is certainly the first step to eliminating it; posting my own list helped me take that step.

Patti B. March 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm

While I didn’t post on excess, I did post about 8 amazing things I read about, saw, or heard. I was trying to think of something positive to counter all the bad news lately. I guess I think there’s been an excess of bad news I let in this week, so I had to balance it out.

Rachelle March 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Cindy – Your comments about the distinction between “abundance” and “excess” were an “ah ha!” moment for me. Thank you!

Off to read the other’s lists!

Thanks for being here today.


Ange March 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

love…what you said about diet coke…
It is my drug/drink of choice – good luck with Lent; you are a better woman than me!

pattie April 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

Love this … thanks. I have been working on excess and abundance for quite awhile now. I am canceling cable and sticking just with netflix [that’s my ‘giving up’ for this month] Like you, I did the no new clothes thing – and I gave more than 1/2 of what i owned away. I think I am getting down to the end of the excess’ness’, and appreciating the abundance. Especially now with the garden sprouting all kinds of great veggies soon to be eaten. I love reading your thoughts/words/ideas – inspirational. Thank you – xo Pattie

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