Merton’s choice of the term “violence” interests me. My thesaurus equates it with madness, struggle, confusion, exhaustion, demonic frenzy. All the antithesis of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
To try to do too much constricts passion, starving reason and constructive purpose. Violence fights counsel and wisdom from others. It charges in where angels fear to tread. It spearheads solutions when the question has not been clearly defined. It camouflages ambition with good intentions and passion. Perhaps not so much ambition as fear.
Traumatic syndrome is not just a result of military battles. Within homes and professions stress assaults us physically, emotionally and spiritually. If we succumb to the pressures without protecting space for nurture we think violent thoughts, rage at people around us, deplete our energies and ourselves. The organizations and friendships meant to grow us themselves grow into monstrous appetites.
So, lists are composed of worthwhile options, a hierarchy of emergency, and needs to be read with an eye to living fully in the moment. We assign the A and B and C with an understanding that we will never live these minutes again. We do not "should" on ourselves but breathe through the boundaries, always with an eye for the serendipitous. And a task that doesn't get done because the sun is shining through rain on glorious rhododendruns can be moved to the next day, or the next.