Lessons learned from PBS mini-series.

I have just discovered Downton Abbey and am in agreement with
all the fawning reviews I have been reading. 
It is fascinating, watching a social system that does not exist any
longer, and the contrasts between the upstairs and the downstairs.  The characters are wonderfully drawn and
shaded and I’m hooked on the plot.  But
this is not a fawning essay about a PBS show, it is an essay about discipline.
Watching the special features that accompany the DVD, I was
struck by someone’s comment that the life both the servants and their employers
lead takes a lot of discipline—and not imposed from above, but
self-discipline.  Self-discipline is
something I feel I could use more of, in more areas of my life and it’s
interesting that it doesn’t seem to be in vogue.
I think when we do mention discipline, it is in relation to
diet and exercise.  We are to be
disciplined eaters—firmly pushing away whatever food is “bad” for us and
regimentally heading out of doors for our daily—mostly punishing—exercises to
keep us toned and fit.  I think
discipline in this context is why we are nation of fat people.  It’s just so grim, and there are so many
other enticing offers—say a season of Downton Abby on DVD complete with extras
and a bowl of popcorn—that it is easy to throw that discipline out the window.
To me, discipline means setting up a routine that works for
you, and then doing it.  I’m pretty good
at this at work: the checks get written on Monday and Wednesday, Tuesday is for
data entry, Thursday I do the lunch order and manage the lunch program and
Friday I clean out the staff refrigerator. 
I don’t always feel like doing these tasks, but they all (except for the
refrigerator, which I notice I abandon around February every year) get done and
I feel the better for it. 
Home is another matter. 
Home is entirely ruled by the whiny, sullen teenager, especially of
late.  “But I don’t wannnnnnttttt to do
that,” the lazy teenager whines when it is time to cook, to clean, to
shop.  The lazy teenager wants to spend
her life in bed, reading books, watching movies and the occasional worthy TV
series.  The problem is that if the
teenager takes over, there is no one to procure the food, cook and clean the
house as well as plant the garden and do all those other things that make life
worth living.  So the lazy teenager finds
herself jangly from lack of exercise, living in filth and with an empty
refrigerator.
I think this is one of the tasks of adult life.  Finding a way to get things done so you can
live in comfort with a sense of accomplishment as well as time for rest and leisure.  It’s a difficult task, at least for me.  It’s also probably one of the reasons there
are so many self-help books on the market.

One thought on “Lessons learned from PBS mini-series.”

  1. I also LOVE Downton!!! Watched every minute and simply adored it. Project Rungay boys have nice commentary on it if you want to throw discipline to the wind and see what they have to say.

    I completely agree with this essay. Summer Sara, especially, since I am mostly at home, is lacking in much discipline. As I sit here and type in my pajamas after a long sleep in. I haven't made a shopping list looked at my coupons, started my grad work for the week, taken care of the boxes I brought home form school. My sullen teenager seems to take over as well. Lists. I need lists. That is what I have resolved… We shall see if a large (physical size – I want those poster sized post-its they use in business meetings) list can bring the discipline…

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