We Admitted We Were Powerless… That Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable

During our year of Sabbath, reading magazines became one of my favorite Sabbath activities. I love how easy they are to dip into. The photographs are often calming and sumptuous. The articles are the perfect length for Sabbath, better than a book, because I was disturb-able while I read. If a kid wanted to color a picture with me, or build an elaborate model of Hogwarts out of wooden blocks, I could put the magazine down more easily than I could an engrossing novel.

The problem is, thanks to an accumulation of subscriptions that year, as well as a few enticing Groupons since then, I subscribe to way too many magazines.

The title of this post is from Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization dear to my heart for familial reasons, but the sentiment can be applied to a great many things. My magazine consumption has gotten completely out of hand. What started as a quiet diversion, steeped in quiet contentment, has taken over my life. I love reading and learning new things, so it’s hard to recycle these magazines, unread, when they start to pile up.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Meister Eckhart’s thing about the spiritual life being a process of subtraction. I need to let go of some of these magazines, but I can’t decide which ones to let lapse. All the pretty pictures! The inspiring, preachable stories! The penetrating commentary on religion and culture!

Add in the couple dozen wonderful blogs and sites I read regularly, and it’s the classic case of too much of a good thing.

In fact, I wonder whether every spiritual quandary can be boiled down to an overabundance of something.

I wonder if you have things that started as life-giving practices that have become burdensome. How do you go about letting go of them? Or is “letting go” the goal?

4 thoughts on “We Admitted We Were Powerless… That Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable

  1. Mary Thorpe

    Yup, I’m convicted here. Books. Knitting projects. Icon projects. House projects. And that’s not even getting into things like work-related projects. Note that these things all carry the label “project,” which means that they are not neatly finished. Thus, my pledge to avoid buying any more yarn or art supplies until the piles that await me (which are truly spiritual practices when I can be present to them int he right way) are diminished. Books, that’s a harder addiction to overcome.

  2. Robert Braxton

    when I was a seventh-grader my parents assigned me the responsibility of preparing supper (cooking) every day. My mother had gone to work second shift in a men’s hosiery textile mill / factory. One day while also trying to supervise the work assignments (after school) of younger two brothers and sisters (three at the time), I “burned the prunes.” I loved reading the comics; however, I made a compact with God that if my father did not beat me when he got home I would stop reading the comics (go “cold turkey”). I have kept my end of the bargain.

  3. Rachel Heslin

    I stopped subscribing to new magazines at the point that I had built up a significant backlog. I recently went through them and sorted the shelter/”women’s” mags by month so that, if I want to curl up with an issue focusing on autumn decor, I can pull one from whatever year I happened to get it in.


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