Oh lads! I took two weeks off for Christ­mas

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - FRONT PAGE -

MON­DAY was a day of won­der. Won­der­ing if this was re­ally my life? Do I re­ally do this? Do I re­ally get up at this hour? In the pitch dark? Can I re­ally swim in this pool in the dark like a caged an­i­mal, not like in the sea at a rea­son­able hour in that amaz­ing weather and light we had over Christ­mas, with the sea car­ry­ing me along like an ef­fort­less su­per­man? But I strug­gle along against the heavy water. And then I walk to work. I walked for plea­sure over the hol­i­days, roam­ing around chat­ting or lis­ten­ing to pod­casts, bounc­ing along in new bouncy proper run­ners I got. So why does this walk to work, only half an hour, seem so in­ter­minable and point­less and grim?

And is this what I do? Do I sit here in front of this com­puter for this end­less day? And how am I sup­posed to cope with all these emails? They keep com­ing. All these peo­ple drag­ging and pulling off me, de­mand­ing my at­ten­tion, and want­ing some­thing from me, want­ing me to do things. And how come it’s only one o’clock?

And even when I made it home to the sanc­tu­ary of the house, dy­ing to just flop down, there was a part of me ask­ing, “When are we hav­ing a drink? What’s hap­pen­ing? What’s the next thing to look for­ward to?” Part of me had been dy­ing to just come home and chill, but there was a part of me ad­dicted to leisure and ac­tion at this point.

Tues­day was a lit­tle bit bet­ter. I tried to fo­cus on in­ten­tion. I have a half a stone to lose. A few pounds of it will pre­sum­ably fall off straight away as my sys­tem re­boots, but I need to get a grip or it will creep up. I feel lit­er­ally slug­gish. Slug­like. I feel slow and wob­bly and shape­less, basic, point­less. I try to fo­cus on the troika. Ex­er­cise or move­ment, eat­ing proper food, and med­i­tat­ing.

Those are the three pil­lars on which my phys­i­cal, men­tal and emo­tional health will rest. I have be­come ad­dicted to junk over nearly six weeks. Since the start of De­cem­ber re­ally. Not even qual­ity gear. I pop lurid yel­low Re­fresher chews and mini Mars bars as if they were cru­dites, lit­tle snacks to warm up for an­other meal of stodge.

I fo­cus on my in­ten­tion. Eat more plants, stop eat­ing fake food-like sub­stances, move as much as pos­si­ble and try to med­i­tate with­out drift­ing off into half-awake crazy day­dreams.

Wed­nes­day I was a lit­tle more alert and with it. And that al­most made it worse. The day was slightly shorter but still long, but I was deal­ing with things bet­ter, mov­ing slowly through to-do lists and more able to make de­ci­sions. I find my­self ac­ci­den­tally look­ing at pic­tures from a few days we had in Italy in Septem­ber and it sets off all kinds of crav­ings. In the evening, I half-talk to the fam­ily and half-watch TV while scrolling through Airbnbs in Italy.

I make it my mis­sion to find the per­fect place, which al­lows me to keep look­ing, tech­ni­cally for­ever.

Thurs­day I was al­most back to my­self and I ac­cepted the fact that you pay a price for two weeks off at Christ­mas but it was worth it for the magic. I force my­self up and swim again and I ac­tu­ally feel good about it. I force my­self to be grate­ful for my health. The fog is start­ing to clear. I am get­ting the clar­i­fy­ing buzz of aus­ter­ity, which has its own charms. And to­mor­row I will feel bet­ter and the day af­ter that bet­ter again.

Mainly though, I keep go­ing. On the swim I don’t feel like, I just do the next length. On the walk to work I don’t want to do, I keep put­ting one foot in front of the other. In work I com­plete one more task. And I go one more minute with­out eat­ing any crap. And here I put one word on to an­other. And I will get there. We will all get there.

“I half-talk to the fam­ily, half-watch TV, half-con­sider Airbnbs in Italy’

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