Once upon a time, when I was a nine-year-old kid, I actually whole-heartedly, truly believed in such a thing as living a sinless life. My mentors, the nuns, taught me so. The church said that it was imperative to my eternal salvation. The stories of saints were proof that I could. If I could believe it, then I could achieve it. I believed within my heart that I wanted to be a good person, living a pure and holy life without sin. I was determined to be so good as to not sin, and so I gave myself the grace of starting fresh the following day, hoping that I would not die that night.
I strategized: eat breakfast and ignore everyone, then brush my teeth like I should and ignore everyone, change my clothes and put them away neatly and ignore everyone, go to school and ignore everyone, come home and ignore everyone, and then go to bed.
The next day I woke up fresh and remembered my holy mission to be sinless. I said a morning prayer. It took one minute to say the Our Father, but that minute felt too long and burdensome. Then I made my bed neat and tidy. That felt exactly like what it was suppose to be -a chore- but the day was fresh and I was determined to outlast the day.
Breakfast was eaten and it was hard to ignore my rising irritation. I skipped the usual morning cartoons to devote time to brushing my teeth properly. I was determined to succeed. God died on the cross for me, so I chose to give up morning tv. God died on the cross for me, so I chose to brush my teeth. It was torture. I was losing precious moments to detailed brushing that could have been spent playing. My childhood was slipping away. I could have died in the next hour. Why couldn’t God have made strong teeth that didn’t rot?
I left the bathroom with a healthy conscience, knowing that for once I was turning that new leaf and starting to live right. Then who should I see? My younger brother. Just seeing him irked my nerves. Then having him poke me with his finger tempted me to knock his lights out. I let it pass. I let it go. I wanted to be good.
I changed my clothes and made a tremendous effort to neatly fold the clothes and put them away. The mental and physical toll of accomplishing that was unbelievable. I was exhausted before the morning was through.