I set my alarm to snooze so I can enjoy having a lie in. Madness, really. I should just wake and get up. No dithering, or luxuriating, or procrastinating. Just up and at it. And maybe 2 out of 7 mornings in a given week, I might do this. Perhaps one morning a fortnight I’m awake when I wake up and have time to think about what I might to that day. And those days are usually better days. I get things accomplished. I get to the end of the day and look back and feel I did something. But they’re few and far between. I’m more likely to dive in and then fly around like a one-winged wasp trying to do too much and not getting a lot done.
I’ve been getting better lately, ever since I discovered that the calendar on my phone syncs with that on my laptop. And everything I want to remember to do goes in the calendar, so much so that if it’s not there, it doesn’t get done. I had a minor meltdown a few weeks back – I had four things to do one day and only wrote down three of them so one didn’t get done – to pick up a bench-cushion I was having covered. But I had the time to do it, and I was minutes from where I needed to be for a good hour with nothing else to do. But I didn’t remember until after the place had closed. Unfortunately, I was on the metro when it dawned on me and the carriage got to witness my ranting self-beratement as I called myself every name under the sun. It was irrational, I know. But hey, I’m of an age.
I mentioned last week that I was doing this six-week WLC challenge. And this week, part of the challenge was to write down each morning one thing that would give a sense of accomplishment to my day. Okay, okay. Be sceptical. I was. But you know, something happened this week.
On Day 1, I wrote that my measure of success for that day would be if I turned up at the anti-government protest scheduled for 5pm. I’m not a great one for large crowds anyway, but I have just enough paranoia to fear the consequences of being caught on camera with face-identification tools readily available. I spoken to a few prominent business men who because they’re responsible for hundreds of employees, cannot show up and risk being caught on camera for fear of the consequences. I’ve heard stories of visits paid requesting passports in the aftermath of simply signing petitions. And while I know I have sod all to hide and my legal status isn’t in question, my trust levels in those who rule are in the minus figures. There’s nothing I’d put past them. And I have to wonder if that’s a healthy environment in which to live and if, deep down, it’s somehow leaving its mark upon my soul. The first time I rallied was when the Hare Krishnas were removed from the register of religious organisations and their lands were in danger of being commandeered by the state. That was back in 2011. I did show up at the one against Internet Tax and perhaps got caught up in another about education reform. But that was accidental. On Saturday, though, it was something I wanted to do. It was frightening and heartening at the same time.
Day 2 was more mundane – I had two papers to get off my desk and a mountain of bills to pay, but I also wanted to play. So I played first and paid second, so not my usual order of things, but it worked.
On Day 3, my measure of success was whether I managed to clear airport security with half a dozen champagne flutes in my carry-on bag. The Internet, as usual, answered whichever way I wanted it to answer, depending on which page I read. I decided to chance it – and pray for the best. My bag was sidelined and I had a moment or seven of doubt, but it wasn’t for a search, just a swab. Nice.
Day 4 was about logistics. I wanted to get to Dublin airport on time. Time is always tight on this particular journey and if there’s an accident on the M50, I’m screwed. It’s a toss up. The oncoming traffic was at a crawl because of a fender bender. Then the motorway displays showed an accident after J4. I needed J5. But J4 was clear and the backdoor worked.
On Day 5, I had to make up my mind whether to buy a rather expensive lamp I’d spotted the previous week in an antique shop. I wanted to feel good about it and not berate myself afterwards. But I also didn’t want to waste money. I have enough stuff. Did I really need more? Then the inimitable SR told me that I’d spend the money anyway, but if I bought the lamp, I’d have something to take pleasure in. I bought with a clear conscience and yer man even knocked off a few thousand … forints, that is.
Day 6 was about resisting the temptation to stay up half the night watching a series I’m hooked on. I only watch it in the village so I had to figure out a way to just watch one episode. But if I wanted to be up early in the morning and get my hours in, then one was all I had time for. I resisted temptation.
On Day 7, the weed-ridden garden path was my daily project and although my fingers were sore and my back was screaming, I had a chicken for company so I persevered.
None of these actions in and of themselves will radically change my world. Granted, adjusting what I eat and how much water I drink and how much sleep I get will rock it one way or another. But what struck me most from this week-long exercise in self-discipline is the power of mindfulness. It was sobering how many times I caught myself mindlessly reaching for a biscuit or a beer or a slice of bread. It was sobering to see how often I disregarded what my body was telling me. And it was heartening to sit back at the end of Week 1, lighter in body and spirit. And for this I’m grateful.