Just recently I did something terrible–I slept past 2:00 PM in the afternoon. Somehow I managed to read to pg. 47 in Joseph Telushkin’s Hillel: If Not Now, When? and in the evening I read to pg. 37 in a book my friend Cynthia loaned me, Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth. I also fixed mom and my suppers and wrote my daily journal entry–but in the evening, not the morning. The point is, I had an embarrassing attack of the lazies this morning. I never believe the modern notion that sleeping till noon is health, to quote the Bible:
The lazy man says, “There’s a lion in the street;
I shall be killed if I step outside.”
Yet sometimes I get tired easily. I will give my excuse (besides staying up late) first: I have anemia, my bone marrow doesn’t produce enough red blood cells, and as a result I suffer from occasional insomnia and my schizophrenic symptoms (voices) flare up at night. That said, I learned young that if I forced myself to keep a schedule: 9:00 PM to bed, 7:00 AM to rise, than I could get to all my classes on time and get all of my school work done in the evening. For years after my one defunct year of grad school I did not require as much sleep as I did in high school or college (the latter was when I learned my ‘cycle’). Learning structure was half of it; I had to schedule exactly which night of the week when I would work on which research paper that would be due at the end of the semester.
I also learned something I think is useful for anyone. A teacher told me, “Study is a process,” and he was right. Yet I realized when he said it that “Virtue is a process.” Being good is a process. To be good a person has to brake down their large goals into small pieces and than get the pieces done well. I someday hope to take this realization and merge it with Process Philosophy, in which God interacts with humankind. I shall call it “Process Ethics.” Anyway, each good deed a person does (a mitzvah) brings a person closer to the “Good,” i.e. God. And each bad deed… well, you get the idea. Each deed we do makes us–to grab a paraphrase from C.S. Lewis–a more heavenly or hellish creature.
Yet there is one step left: when a person does an evil deed, if it is large, they should pray to God for forgiveness. And if they do an evil deed, if it is small (like sleeping through the morning is on the surface), they should forgive themself and move on. Tormenting yourself about minor sins is counterproductive, because it creates a kind of self-inflicted misery.