Quarantine Journal Entry #4

Day 12.

I said last week that the tighter my eating window, the tighter my sleeping window. Well, yesterday I ate a large amount over many hours, and ended up sleeping in past 9am. Groggily awaking, I skip the Falun Dafa and go to the journal.

Expunge the grogginess by way of a Humane Burpee with the chunkiest kettlebell. It consists of swings, squats and press-ups, in that order for several rounds. You do 10 swings, 5 squats, 5 press-ups, 10 more swings, 4 squats, 4 press-ups, 10 swings, 3 squats, 3 press, and so on until you do 1 of each. That’s 50 swings, 15 goblet squats and 15 press-ups. Modest-sounding, but heavy work when tackled without rest periods. I used to time myself to see how (if) I progressed. Goblet squats, the slightly less sinister cousin of the front squat, is plenty evil enough when you are cupping the 48kg Beast between your palms.

Polished and published my Quarantine Journal Entry #3.

Ground out 60 pull-ups with a 16kg kettlebell hanging off my waist, feeling the drizzly mist on my face, listening to the fog horns in the distance – magic.

Listened to a podcast whilst doing the dishes, cooking some sushi rice for later and some lentils for a late breakfast.

Every heard of Tabata intervals? I wish I hadn’t. I programmed them as weekly occurrences at the start of 2020, but they only happened once a month at most. It is short, simple, not easy: 20 seconds exercise, 10 seconds rest, for 8 rounds. Only 4 minutes! (Said nobody who has ever done them…) I usually do front squats with two 16kg kettlebells for my Tabata hell, but today I did double jerks with the two 24kg puppies. I am toast. Panting like an asthmatic dog. Toast!

Made some sushi with rice found in the ‘end of the world pantry’, eggs from the brother-in-law’s chicken coop, black beans from The Guernsey Weigh mashed up and spiced, and wasabi paste kindly retrieved by the mother at my request. Chuffed with the result, if I may say so myself.

You are probably aware that I like to throw myself into the sea everyday. Dipping is my ritual. Without it, my vitality and sanity are compromised. I yearn to be cradled in the seas of Guernsey. That is why, the very second I am legally released back into the wild at one minute past midnight on Wednesday the 4th November, I will hop into my (Dad’s) car and drive to Bordeaux for a dip. The thought makes me tingle.

Started and finished John Cleese’s short and sweet book, Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide. Aside from being consistently hilarious, I have always found Cleese to illuminate more serious topics, to which he brings unique insight and much-needed levity.

Today’s quote comes courtesy of Mr Cleese, and aside from being pertinent and useful, it still makes me laugh each time I re-read it:

New and ‘wooly’ ideas shouldn’t be attacked by your logical brain until they’ve had time grow, to become clearer and sturdier. New ideas are rather like small creatures. They’re easily strangled.

Day 13.

Up at 8am, full Falun Dafa listening to some ethereal music, then to the journal.

Knocked out 40 snatches with a 32kg kettlebell, then 40 with a 24kg. Now I am awake. Did some sun salutations and hung off the pull-up outside to loosen things up a bit.

Now that I am awake, it is time to write something, applying the insights provided by John Cleese’s chirpy book. It works. Simple things, things one already knows but still needs to be told. The seed for a future article is sown.

Right, burpee chirpy time. Ladders of swings with the 48kg kettlebell, then burpees, then press-ups. Totalled 100 of each. Sun salutations with shaky legs thereafter. Still sweating more than twenty minutes afterwards.

I came into quarantine planning a three-day fast and a couple of 24hr fasts. Thus far I’ve only done one 48hr fast and three or four 24hr ‘fasts’.

The greatest benefits of fasting are to be had when you go a whole day without food, and go to bed with an empty stomach – that is true fasting. It allows your body to focus on processes other than digestion, and gives your gut a rest. It teaches you forbearance, and to truly appreciate the abundance we are spoiled by. And, if you will pardon my woo-woo hippiness for a second, it is spiritually restorative. There is a reason that religions consider fasting a holy practice.

So I will take today without food, and break my fast at 48hrs tomorrow, roughly 4pm, the time I ate that glorious sushi yesterday. I would like to do a three-day fast again, but I am not confident it would be good whilst hammering exercise as I have been.

Started reading Yes To Life In Spite of Everything by concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, most famous for Man’s Search for Meaning. Spiriting, life-affirming stuff.

A fellow ginger and compadre of mine dropped off a games console early in my quarantine, and I’ve not played it once, nor have I played the other games console on which my mother and I sometimes play Super Mario over a beverage or six.

This coming weekend, I shall be blessed by the ebullience of a certain beverage, derived from black grapes grown in the south of France. Today, the only beverages I have consumed are black coffee, linden tea made with leaves from Limbaži, and good old trusty sparkling water.

A quote from Viktor Frankl seems to be in order, one best heeded by the despondent, destructive and directionless fanatics who make out the circumstances of 21st century humans living in the First World as unbearably oppressive:

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.

Guess I best strap in for some crazy vivid dreams as with my first fast on day two of quarantine

Day 14.

Disrupted sleep and disjointed dreams, what I do recall is neither interesting or coherent enough to recount.

I awake to a gust knocking something over at 5am and cannot fall back to sleep. I wonder if the wind and rain will be so spirited and glorious at one minute past midnight, when I make my way to Bordeaux for a dip.

For the moment, I settle into tranquility, doing Falun Dafa meditation and writing the journal.

What a beautiful morning. Crisp hues cast by peach-blossom clouds, the grass made greener, the sky bluer. Rain and hail rip through the scene, departing as quickly as they arrive. You can almost taste the wind’s energy. The elements demand attention. The sea is calling, roaring. I am inordinately excited to behold these elements at play over Bordeaux come midnight, then again tomorrow morning, then again tomorrow evening.

Stepped on the scales this morning and weighed in at 90.4kg, which is 3.1kg or half a stone lighter than the weight I commenced quarantine with two weeks ago.

Another Humane Burpee, taking it “easy” this time with the 40kg kettlebell, totalling 100 swings, 30 goblet squats and 30 press-ups. Feels great to exercise on an empty stomach, earning my breakfast due at 4pm today.

I have been making some notes towards a blog post reflecting on my quarantine experience. However, the notes seem to have multiplied exponentially whilst I wasn’t looking, and may be too long and unwieldy for one article. I will either have to mercilessly chop away some of my thoughts or do separate articles, say on meditation, exercise, journaling, and so on. What do you think?

It is midday, my brain has begun to fog and my focus dissolve. Dissolve? It took me a while to think of and choose that word, and I am not sure it is the right one. Right. Definitely going to sack off the writing.

Opt instead for clean and press ladders with one 32kg badger, 35 reps per arm. It was supposed to be a pick-me-up but it feels more like a knock-me-down.

Right, that’s it, breaking my fast a couple hours shy of 48hrs. No big failure. Had a generous salad and then made some sushi to celebrate my last day of unfreedom – happy days. Huzzah!

Put my feet up on the sofa, watched Dinner Date and some UFC fights, then had an impromptu hour-long snooze, needed after an early start and before a late finish tonight. This sounds silly to write, but I feel like I have – earned it? Maybe 14 days in I am finally beginning to become deluded.

Ate a hearty noodle soup whilst breaking my almost-blanket ban on news, half-listening to some of the 2020 presidential election coverage. The whole thing is obscene, but I have skin in the game, so should probably pay some attention.

Christ. Did not last long. That’s an hour of my life I cannot retrieve. I feel like I’m dumber after all that. Blah blah blah. Opt to watch X-Men Apocalypse on the telly-box instead. Multicoloured mutants are far less disturbing than Trump and Biden.

My older sister texted me: “What if reality feels weird. You gonna blog about dat.” I haven’t laughed so hard all day. I replied, “I’m pretty sure reality’s going to smack me in the face in a few hours time. Splash me in the face, to be exact.”

Two quotes today, this glorious day. The first from Roman poet Decimus Junius Junevalis, which popped into my head whilst watching election coverage:

You should abstain from arguments. They are very illogical ways to convince people. Opinions are like nails: the stronger you hit them, the deeper inside they go.

The second quote from one John F Kennedy:

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back to whence we came.

And so it is, that I get into the car at midnight, and drive in silence past not one other vehicle, and arrive at my spiritual home and harbour of Bordeaux, parking on my privileged spot on the slip.

It is a crisp eight degrees outside, with the wind died down. The moon is blazing, Mars out in force, and the stars shine brightly when uncovered by the fast-moving clouds.

Down the slip I go, smiling like madman. Off goes the kit, and my body breaks the sheen of the surface. Midnight moonlit skinny-dipping cannot be beaten as communion with the elements.

I emerge laughing like an even madder madman, all but howling at the moon, the magnetic mass, mover of tides, my midnight candle. I relish the few minutes I can stand starkers, in my home, sea salt drying on my skin, the tide gently pulsing within the pristine tranquility of Guernsey’s most beautiful harbour.

I am free.

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