Thursday, 9 October 2014

Chasing the Blahs Away

Recently when I wake up, at 05:30 each weekday morning, I murmer to myself: can I stop now? Do I have to carry on slogging through each morning prep, commute, day at the job, commute and/or gym? Can I retire and do whatever it is I think I'm going to do when I retire - learn K-theory and the Bach Cello Suites on plectrum guitar.

At least, that's what I think I mean. And if I had a thumping final-salary pension from years of service with the company and could afford to live on it, then I might well chuck in the day-job and find something else to do. But I don't, so I can't, so waking up at 05:30 it is.

The last week off work let me realise that it takes my body three full days to recover from the kind of workout I gave it on the Tuesday afternoon, the highlights of which were 2x6x70kgs on the bench press, 3x10x24kgs on the dumbell chest press and 3x8x60 on the deadlift. (I know, you can do that standing on your head. Call me when you're 60 and doing better.) A huge part of the "Can I Stop Now" comes from that physical reaction.

Then waking up at 05:30. My natural times are bed between 23:00 and 24:00, wake up some time after 07:00 and lie in bed for 20 minutes or so before getting started on breakfast. 05:30 is un-natural and it's followed by a commute by public transport. I know everyone else does that, and guess what? Everyone else wants to stop as well.

The drab office with its half-assed aircon, meeting rooms in which I and many others struggle to stay awake, furniture that was tired when it was bought no doubt second-hand, don't mention the toilets, and the truly awful computers and internet access does not help either.

Then there's my superior moral fortitude, so I can't do what old men my age do, which is let themselves go to the point where they think that three brisk 30-minute walks a week counts as exercise, and watching some vapid documentary on BBC 3 counts as intellectual challenge. When I ask if I can stop now, I'm asking as well if I can just let myself go now please?

Of course I can't. I know what happens if I stop exercising: I put on weight, my blood sugar goes up as a consequence, my legs break out into blotches and I lose the fine edge of thinking ability that makes me a demon at my job. I get tired, irritable and lose my charm and confidence. Seriously.

I could no more start watching mainstream TV than I could pull my hair out. I'm fed up with the movie scene in London because I want it to be something more than the same five films in the Curzons, Everymans and even at the ICA. Could I really stop reading philosophy and mathematics? I did stop with the philosophy, and I'm happier now I read it again, even if it's sometimes so waffle-y it hurts (I'm looking at you, Isabelle Stengers). As for reading and understanding mathematics (or physics), it's how you know you haven't woken up brain-dead from one too many meetings where people talk non-stop management babble as if it makes sense to them.

As for dressing well and eating at the bar (at Moro, Exmouth Market as I type), that's only going to stop when I can't afford it. And it isn't that expensive to dress with anonymous style, thanks to the fact that all clothes are now made by child labour in Chinese factories that spew the pollution from the carcinogenic dyes into the water.

I'm doing all this sober - something you have no idea about - and drug-free and with practically zero chance of getting off with any kind of female - which some of you may have an idea about - and while it's all terribly virtuous and vastly preferable, for me, to being drunk, high or involved with some needy screw-up, it lacks edge and part of me would like to stop doing it, and let go, stay home and watch crap TV, eat high-calorie food junk food and turn into a self-pitying mess who gets asked to retire in six months. That's the self-pitying part of me talking. I don't want to do any of those things. Especially the part where I stop being good-looking.

What I want is to live the way I do but without the sense of effort, effort, effort. You know why so few people are real menschen? Because it's hard work, and it never gets to be a habit, and it never gets easy, and very few people support you in your endeavour to be so.

What’s left is a case of the blahs, that boredom and dissatisfaction that can make me retreat to the house instead of going to do something, because doing whatever it is isn’t going to make me feel better so why should I spend the money? A quick look round the web finds people treating the blahs like a cloudy day, and as having no ontological significance, but that’s a tad lazy. If I’m bored and dissatisfied it’s because there’s something missing from my life. Maybe I need to find an interesting book to read, or please god a decent movie to watch, or do some housework (alcoholics will remember that one: cleaning is very distracting, therapeutic and rewarding. Many alcoholics in early days have spotless quarters). The blahs can mean I’ve read some tedious books, or been tired, or done something to run myself down. There’s nothing that says the blahs are more common amongst the older folk, although we do have more cause to say things like “I saw the original” or “I read Proust already”. However, I haven’t read lots of John D McDonald or any of Hopscotch. It’s up to me to find something new and interesting, and there’s always something out there.

So I am going to tell my waking, aching body to shut the frack up, and take it to the brisk morning exercises involving light barbells with Fatgripz on the handles. I am going to do my best to be in bed by 21:30 five days a week and get seven hour's sleep. I am going to keep dragging my sorry ass to work, to the gym, to restaurants, movies and wherever else I think I should show up.

No comments:

Post a Comment