It’s clear enough that grand, life-changing goals are quite hard to meet. Your resolve begins solidly, but in no time at all, desires intervene and adherence crumbles.
AA attempts to combat this decay with a “one day at a time” ethos. This can work … until the ruse is grasped: you peer ahead and remember days become weeks become months become years and that “one day at a time” is just an alternate expression of a chilling reality where you are asked to change behavior forever.
Forever is never easily reconciled. This is true for both things we like (i.e., love) and don’t (i.e., deprivation). Lent avoids this biggest-of-big asks. You only have to change for 40 days. That’s it. Then, normalcy can resume. Whenever you start to waver, you know relief is around the corner, and that knowledge changes the internal calculation dramatically. Suddenly, you can hold out à la your toughest heroes.
Then day 41 hits and you did it! Ain’t nobody faulting you for some good old-fashioned splurging. For a certain type of person, though, the 40 days have reduced such desires. Why not run it back? Did I even desperately miss that which I thought I couldn’t live without?
So that certain person repeats the process just ’cause. The renditions begin blurring together with one noticeable difference: the compulsion to return to the pre-Lent state diminishes inversely with the number of “Lents” completed. Do this enough and further doesn’t seem forever.