E – Enthusiasm (PBP Week 10)

«Nothing great was ever achieved without enthu...

(Photo credit: ebenimeli)

One of Francis’ favorite things is a little stone plaque with a quote from Emerson.  It says “Nothing Great Was Ever Achieved Without Enthusiasm.”  He acquired it right before he opened his restaurant and has found it very inspirational.

Sometimes he leaves it lying around in places where I’m sure to see it.

My own enthusiasm waxes and wanes.  This is the case for most people, I’d image.  It’s hard to remain at a fevered pitch about any one thing for a long period of time.

Take this blog, for example.  When I first started it, I couldn’t write enough.  I’d have PBP posts done and scheduled weeks ahead of time, plus many additional entries.

Then came the time when my PBP posts got later and later, finally disappearing altogether.  Regular posts became sparse.

Sometimes it’s a case of being bad at multitasking.  I seem to be able to get passionate about one thing at a time.  When I’m focused on my paintings, I can’t bring myself to blog.  When I’m intent on making jewelry, I don’t do either of the others.

But too often, for me, it’s a lack of enthusiasm for anything.  I get overwhelmed.  I start just going through the motions on necessary tasks and completely skipping those that seem less critical.

One of the things I can get very enthusiastic about it my religious practice.  (Interesting etymological fact:  the English word, enthusiasm is originally derived from the ancient Greek entheos, meaning “possessed by a God.”)  This waxes and wanes as well.

On the upswing, I want to live every moment of my life as an offering.  I want to always be doing something for my Gods. In the quieter times, I still want these things – in theory.  I just can find the motivation to actually act on that desire.

One of the benefits of an orthopraxic faith is that one can “go through the motions” and still be doing things right.  Yet, it’s very difficult for me to perform the rites when I don’t feel anything.  I don’t mean not feeling the presence of the Gods – I am incredibly grateful when They do pay a visit, but I hardly expect to get Their attention every time I light a candle.  I mean not feeling anything inside.

Francis often tells me I need to “find my joy.”  I’ve decided that this means that, instead of waiting around for enthusiasm to strike out of the blue, I need to actively cultivate it.

One of the things I learned in therapy for depression is that the old axiom “fake it ’til you make it” can be incredibly helpful.  Acting as if one is happy will, eventually, lead to being happier overall.  In the same way, going through the motions religiously allows one to be open to the Gods, open to being filled by Them, open to entheos.

Meaning:  step one is to get off my backside and do stuff.

I know I’m not alone in this problem.  Do you have down periods in your practice?  Are you able to keep going during these times, and if so, what helps you do this?