I finally did it! It has taken months, but I went to the mountaintop, and I saw the promised land. I reached 400,000 points on Tetris! In a previous post entitled A Tetris Fantasy, I committed to stepping back from my preferred distraction for a specified period of time. Well, I did, and the five-day hiatus took me to new heights. When I returned to face the falling fluorescent blocks, my fingers flew across the keyboard as if they were attached to the hands of a virtuoso pianist. I knew I was close, but I did not dare take a glance at the scoreboard. That would have jinxed everything! I held on until the brightly-colored horde overwhelmed my best efforts. And then, with shining glory, these words flashed before my eyes: NEW HIGH SCORE.
I couldn’t believe it; my odyssey was complete. I set a goal, and I achieved it. I stood on the precipice of victory and tasted the sweet savor of accomplishment. I fought the good fight, and I finished my race. Now, a high score was laid up for me in heavenly places! A crown of legend will soon rest upon my brow. I set my eyes on an aspiration; I focused my hands on a target. I hit the bullseye. So what should I do next? Hmmm…should I shoot for 450,000? Naw. I’m not interested in continuing. I reached my personal goal, and that’s enough.
And here is where most of us fall for ‘purgatory’s entreaty’…we reach a goal and then we spoil our satisfaction by immediately telling ourselves we have to reach higher levels of accomplishment. I call it purgatory’s entreaty because this mindset only yields the satisfaction of a ‘hamster on a wheel.’ You will continuously exert more energy but never reach the beautiful land called satisfaction.
‘Purgatory’s Entreaty’ is also known as the Hedonic Treadmill. As a person reaches new heights, he or she will be tempted to ask the question, “But what if I can go higher?” So the happiness we get from achievement is canceled by a correlative rise in expectation and desire. We achieve, and then we immediately turn to achieve more. We gain, and then we immediately want to gain more. We receive, and then we strive to receive more. We accomplish, and then we work to accomplish more. This is what I mean by purgatory’s entreaty. It is a dangerous proposition because it has no end. It is an invitation that can’t result in anything more than eternal dissatisfaction.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
BRAIN–For three consecutive ultrasounds, Jesher’s ventriculomegaly has shown improvement! Ventriculomegaly is a condition where the brain ventricles dilate due to improper draining of fluid. Due to his early brain bleeds, Jesher had developed clots in his brain that inhibited the Cerebrospinal Fluid [CSF] from draining properly. There have been moderate improvements in his ventricle size and moderate improvements in the size of his clots. These positive signs have allowed us to avoid any invasive brain procedures. Praise be to Yahweh! PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR JESHER’S BRAIN DEVELOPMENT; ASK YAHWEH TO SET UP A STANDARD AGAINST ANY SETBACKS OR DEVELOPMENTAL DEFICITS.
BLOOD–Jesher’s blood platelets are still falling. He is still unable to maintain the proper platelet counts. The doctors have tested possible causes, but each of those tests came back negative. For the moment, they have concluded that Jesher’s bones are just not developed enough to produce normal platelet levels. Jesher’s neonatologists have brought on a hematologist to watch and assess Jesher’s blood health. PLEASE CLAIM THE BLOOD OF JESUS OVER OUR SON’S BLOOD; PRAY THAT THE LORD WOULD MATURE OUR SON’S BONES, SPLEEN, AND LIVER SO THEY MIGHT PRODUCE HEALTHY BLOOD.
CPAP MACHINE–CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Once a preemie transitions from a ventilator, they are placed on a CPAP machine as a transitional measure. This machine helps Jesher take-in oxygen and blow-off carbon dioxide. We are thankful he is off the ventilator; however, the CPAP mask is really causing Jesher discomfort. We can already tell that he doesn’t like things on his face. The mask is also causing some eye swelling due to the pressure it applies to his sinuses. Jesher’s breathing is improving, but the CPAP apparatus is disturbing him. PLEASE ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT TO BE A COMFORTER FOR JESHER WHILE HE IS ON THE CPAP MACHINE; ASK GOD TO SING HIM SONGS OR WHISPER PROMISES IN HIS EAR TO LOWER HIS ANXIETY.
If NICU parents aren’t careful, they will fall victim to purgatory’s entreaty. It will entice them whenever a doctor gives a positive report on one area and a negative report in a different area. It will tempt them whenever they hear of another family being discharged while their child still hasn’t been assigned a projected discharge date. It will cajole them whenever they read an inspiring article of another NICU family’s timeline. This is why I have decided to turn away from comparison and turn towards contentment. This is why I have decided to stop my Tetris pursuit at 400,000 points. This is why I begin to thank God for small victories whenever I feel my ambition attempting to erase my joy with insatiable expectations. For thanksgiving, not ambition, is the only way I’ll avoid the ‘Siren’s Song’ of purgatory’s entreaty.
“Even if someone lived a thousand years—make it two thousand!—but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point? Doesn’t everyone end up in the same place?
We work to feed our appetites;
Meanwhile our souls go hungry.”