It’s a Lenten exercise. Last year it was “War and Peace,” this year it’s the great white whale. Somehow I’d managed to avoid it until now. Then Lent rolled around and I started thinking of things I’d never do except as penance. This book sprang to mind.
Tough sledding, yes, but not without benefits. You know how it is when you’re standing around at a cocktail party and people start going on about Melville? Now I’ll have one less reason to walk away. Also, the next time one of those Facebook click-bait quizzes show up, about how many great books I’ve read, I’ll be able to pad the score by one.
But really, I don’t know if I’m writing about “Moby Dick” now, or writing about Lent.
Lent, probably. It’s something I never heeded as a younger man. But my wife was raised Catholic and is now Episcopalian, so I’ve become aware.
I’m still a little fuzzy on the theological aspects of it, but the concept of self denial and self discipline — at least on a temporary basis — has a certain appeal. You wonder what it would be like to be a better person — say, the kind who reads classic tomes and doesn’t drink wine every damned night of the week. Lent’s your chance to dip a toe into those cleansing waters. Never mind if you decide 40 days later that the water is a bit too chilly. At least you tried.