And So It Goes

First of all, if you haven’t seen Crazy, Stupid, Love, do! It’s really well made, well written, has some genuine laughs, and Ryan Gosling is brilliant in it. Very cool, very sexy, with some of the best lines in the movie. But anyway, enough of that…

So I’ve asked work for a year off, from September to next August. Just got to wait and see if they’ll go for it now. Not sure what I’ll do if they don’t. Will deal with that bridge when I come to it. For now it just feels like there’s this big boulder on top of a hill and I’ve just given it a nudge towards the edge.

The month of no chocolate is over so expect a perfected vegan swiss roll some time soon. Just need to find the time to do some cooking. Doing so much overtime this month, to help pay for upcoming shenanigans, that I’m in work more days than I’m not (which I know most people do, but when you’re doing 12 hour shifts that’s something else).

So my days off in March are just that, days off. I’m not going to fill them with junk. Taking it easy for the next 30 days or so, The only thing I do want to do is write. I’ve neglected the book and it’s time to get back on it and get it finished. I want it done before I go away, and six months is more than enough time.

That’s it for now. Nothing dramatic, and no pictures. Just checking in. Should have some more interesting stuff soon though. I have a side project on the go for March that may bear fruit. Stay tuned for further results.

Until then…

You’re All Going To Die!

Relax, this isn’t my declaration of intent before I go postal and do something loony at work. Actually it’s a quote from the film Zulu (the quintessential Sunday afternoon movie if ever there was one!). It always pops in my head when I think about mortality and our approach to it.

dalston church

Generally we don’t think about dying. Sure we acknowledge the fact in our own way, but really we kind of pretend that death is something that happens to other people, or that when it happens to us it’ll be some time in the far distant future.

But death can come at any time. It’s trite to say, but it’s true, you could get run over by a bus tomorrow. The psychiatrist RD Lang once said

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.”

To help them understand the impermenance of the human body Buddhist monks will sometimes sit and contemplate a rotting corpse, so that they can come to understand the transitory nature of life. Yet with life able to end so swiftly why do we choose to fill it with such worthless moments.

We go to work and get angry about things that don’t really matter. We spend our lives in misery worrying about things that aren’t necessarily real, or at least no more real than anything else. This is what we choose to do with our time, and we do it without thinking, unless something happens to snap us out of it.

It is a staple of cinema to have the life changing experience. The moment that shakes someone out of their mindless stupor and onto the road of adventure. I’ve mentioned this before when I wrote about the movie Stranger Than Fiction; a guy knows his death is imminent so he asks his best friend “What would you do if you knew you were going to die?” Well that’s just it, you are going to die, we all are, so why don’t we act accordingly?

dead mouse

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try and keep this idea in mind from now on. I always think there’s a tomorrow, that I can do it (whatever ‘it’ is) some time in the future. But this is your starting point, right here, right now. Whatever it is, if it’s worth doing, now is the time to do it!

So don’t waste your time. Make sure you enjoy the life you’ve chosen for yourself, because otherwise what’s the point? For me that means changing my job, doing more interesting things, meeting more nice people, and asking this girl out I fancy because I know I’ll regret it if I don’t.

When I was 24 I had this job managing the runners at a post production house in Soho. I hated it. The boss was, like many bosses, a mean, nasty little man who ran his company through fear and intimidation. I wanted to quit, and do it in a very vocal manner to his face! But everyone advised me to wait, to bide my time, to find another job before I did something like that. Everyone, except for one person.

It was the guy who came to fix the lift. I got on really well with him, we always had nice chats when he came around. One day when he came I was particularly pissed off. He said “Come with me,” and we took the lift up to the top floor where he dropped it down a level, opened the doors, and we climbed on top so that he could inspect the doors from the inside as it went back down again.

Traveling down I told him what was up and he said one of the most memorable things anyone has ever said to me. He said,

“Next time you get angry, and want to quit, do it! Because when you’re old and gray those are the memories that’ll put a smile on your face. And don’t worry about work. You’re a smart lad, you’ll find something. Even if it’s just sweeping the streets for a while.”

I’ll never forget that day. I promised myself that next time I felt like having a go at the boss I would. As it happens one of my many job applications hit not long after that, so I didn’t have to, but just the idea of it, the idea of being able to do that, meant a lot to me.

Y’know, I haven’t thought about that day in a long time. Here’s me going on that you don’t need life changing moments, and yet there I am with one sitting in my back pocket. Maybe it’s time I heeded the advice and made some major changes. What’s the worst that could happen? 😉

And to finish, here’s the scene from Zulu with the quote in it I mentioned above. My apologies for the incorrect aspect ratio. Out of my control I’m afraid.

Sivananda Yoga Retreat

Well, I’m back from my yoga retreat. Quite a weekend, let me tell you. Hard work sometimes (getting up at 5:30am for example) but certainly worth it. And I don’t feel half as tired/achey as I thought I would. Maybe I’m getting better, lol.

gaunts house

It was at Gaunt’s House, which is this big old former country house (now retreat centre) in Dorset. The place is massive, with lots of grounds, a big garden, and good sized rooms. I paid extra for a single and got a room that’s bigger than my flat (seriously, though I do have a very small flat!) with a double bed. Oh the luxury of a double bed! So nice to just spread out like that. I miss having a double bed.

enjoying the view

The grounds were made for chilling out, but there wasn’t much time for that. The schedule kept us quite busy. Check this out:

5:30 – Wake
6:00 – Satsang (meditation and chanting)
8:00 – Yoga
10:00 – Breakfast/Brunch
12:00 – Nature walk
14:00 – Demo/talk
16:00 – Yoga
18:00 – Supper
20:00 – Satsang
21:30 – Finish
21:31 – Bed 😉

Quite a lot to do huh? I tell you, took a little getting used to. You just had to relax and go with it (probably part of the ethos I reckon). And I’m not kidding about the last one. Soon as you were finished it was straight to bed (for me anyway). If I’m getting up that early I needs me beauty sleep.

The whole thing was run very well, which is no surprise from the Sivananda lot. I even helped out with some of it, getting to the centre early to load up my car with stuff (I had pictures of the swamis and deities on my back seat, and every time someone cut me up in traffic, and I swore without thinking, I found myself apologising to ‘the boys’ for my bad language, lol), helping set up when we got there, and finally fiddling with the sound system during the satsangs, swapping wires between mikes and twiddling knobs to get the levels right.

All the yoga-ey stuff was excellent. My ability to do it though, varied from day to day. Funny how some days you can get your toes on the floor when doing the plough, and other days you find yourself completely scrunched up, feet flailing, unable to catch your breath.

nature walk vs fence

The nature walks were nice, though ‘walk’ is a bit of a misnomer. March, stomp or trudge might a better way of describing it. With Swamiji and his long legs up front, striding off into the distance, it was sometimes a task just to keep up. I know for a fact we lost most the group on the first day (and the second day for that matter) and it was just some good guesswork (or the sound of our post-meditative omming) that brought them back to the rest of the group unscathed, lol. 🙂

As for all the chanting, I can’t say I’m entirely sold on that. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good Om as much as the next man, but after 30-40 minutes of it… well, you get the idea. Maybe I’ll get into it one day, maybe I won’t (the Swami himself admitted he had some difficulty getting his head around it in the beginning), I just know for now it’s not the thing for me; and so mote it be.

thai yoga massage

On the last night, instead of a long satsang, we had a talent show. People told stories, played the piano, sang, did demos, and I even got roped into doing a bit of Tai Chi for them. Got to admit, I was a bit nervous doing it. It was a big crowd (about 70 odd) but it went ok in the end. I got plenty of compliments afterwards, which was nice, and maybe some people might feel motivated to give it a try; which would be great, as yoga and Tai Chi are very much sister disciplines.

(more pics here)

stonehenge

On the way back we stopped off at Stonehenge to go check that out. Was nice to see the stones close up, though not as close as I’d have liked, as you’re not allowed near them for some reason; and you have to pay £7:50 for the privilege, which seems a bit steep to me.

And, everyone was walking round with these little recorders listening to a commentary on the stones, which made for an odd sight. Made me think of the Victorians, who would go out into the countryside and, since they only ever saw landscapes in paintings, had to use a little framing devices to look around, otherwise they couldn’t ‘see’ the beautiful views around them.

Still, it was worth a visit, and I’m glad I went. And it was fun to spend some time with Swami Krishnadevananda and the gang not doing yoga or anything like that, just monkeying about a bit.

swami and the stones

He’s such a cheery fella! 🙂

kiki and the henge

Still rockin’ the new do’. 😉

All told a very good weekend, and one I would recommend to anyone who fancies a bit of a yoga retreat some time. They have them twice a year in the UK, and at other times at other centres around the world. Check out their website for the what’s going on.

Give ’em a go! You’ll meet some lovely people, learn some new stuff, get a bit fitter, and have a right laugh whilst doing it. What more could you need? 🙂