Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Instant Gratification

To my son Tommy,

We live in a world where our efforts are often instantly gratified.  You need to know something, pull it up on the internet.  If you are hungry, fast food is there to sate you.  You take a picture and boom it is shared with your friends and family.  Fast and furious this world comes at you.  Unfortunately, this creates a culture of "I want it now" which can undermine some serious efforts.

This morning I jumped on the scale.  My fat butt weighed in at 292 and I thought back to the previous nights episode of "The Biggest Loser" and remembered many of these guys are below my current weight.  I need to lose.  But I can't get into the trap of expecting instant results.  Just because I ate an apple today, I don't expect to drop ten pounds immediately.  Just because I did ten push-ups this morning, doesn't mean I will be slim by Friday.  Weight loss takes a constant sustained effort and often your first efforts show little to no effect in the beginning.  It is a process that builds on itself through small sustainable changes that sooner or later amount to something significant.

It is like the concept of saving money.  If you cut out two dollars a day from your spending, you don't see the results for sometime.  You may actually never "see" the results because you probably will re-purpose that two dollars to a credit card payment or paying a bit extra on your mortgage.  But if you do mannage to sock it away, after a year of not spending the two dollars a day, you have somewhere, somehow saved $730.00.  Now if you throw that in a bank or investment and start getting compound interest, again nothing exciting happens in the beginning.  For five to ten years nothing exciting happens to that money, it just slowly gains compound interest.  It builds upon itself, and after 30 years say at 5% interest that $730 has grown to just over $3150.  That is when you say wow and you see the potential, but until it has some time to build upon itself, compound interest can be boring.

Another area that people expect instant gratification is prayer.  People expect to pray for a week or two or even a year or two and see immediate and tangible results.  Many people point to this as the reason they have no faith.  I have heard such phrases as "I prayed for world peace all my life and God allows these wars and such to go on and on" as reasoning for no longer practicing their faith.  I won't even touch on the concept that many of the things people pray for are not true and noble causes that are worth having that prayer answered.  God isn't going to send you a winning lotto ticket, it is not something that interests Him.  You can't treat Him like a dog and pony show and ask Him to do tricks for you.  Discounting such selfish prayers, even then prayer is like compound interest.  Our Lady of Fatima promised the conversion of Russia, among other things, if we pray the rosary and establish a devotion to her Immaculate Heart .  This didn't mean that one person, one time around some prayer beads, could pray it and everything would be done.  But one voice, day in day out, added to those others who lend their voice to the prayer, it all builds up.  I remember, when I was 10 years old living in Vicenza, your Grandpa Leo walking me up the hill through 150 arches of Monte Berico and teaching me why it is important to say the rosary.  He taught me prayer builds and builds like those stairs and that is the way to reach the top.

So don't always look for instant gratification.  Even a drop of water can bore a hole in rock over time.  When you look to make a change, be it in your finances, your health, or your soul, trust in the power of small changes to make big differences.  Trust that even throwing 12 cents in a jar everyday will add up.  Trust that just removing a high calorie soft drink or adding a routine to eat breakfast everyday will start to make a difference in your weight and health.  Trust that even though that prayer might seem to go unanswered that you are walking a half mile up those steps through those 150 arches and at some time you will finally reach the top.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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