Sunday, 5 April 2015

Another snowy Easter; Lent summed up

As I sit here in the kitchen writing, I can see flurries of snow outside. It is Easter Sunday. Leaden skies, westerly winds, but the snow won't settle as it's +2C. So disappointing, given that two weeks ago it was already warm enough to wander out without an overcoat.

Still, it's the end of Lent, something I celebrated at midnight with a really fine bottle of Citra IPA by Great Heck Brewery - a truly superior ale, crisp, golden, full of single-hop flavour.

Time to look at the effects of 46 days of fasting, preceded by a gentler period of reduced food and drink intake plus increased exercise.

The effects are good. Weight down from 12 stone 0lbs (168lbs/76.2kg) down to 11 stone 2lbs (156lbs/70.8kg). And thanks to the sit-ups and reduced calorific intake, it's come off the right place - the middle. My girth has been reduced from 40 inches (101.6cm) to 38 inches (96.5cm). Not bad - two whole inches - 5cm, in three months.

During the first quarter I missed by steps target (a million paces) by less than 9,000. Still, not bad - that's 793km or 489 miles walked.

Logging the personal fitness data - and this year I've added fresh fruit and veg intake to my spreadsheet - is a good motivator for me to at least keep sight of my Lenten resolutions for the rest of the year. A useful indicator - in the week around Christmas, I managed to consume 78 units of alcohol, nearly four times the recommended amount. My consumption for the whole of the first quarter of this year has been just over one-third the recommended amount.

Meat - apart from the odd craving for a decent hamburger now and then, fish and cheese pretty much fulfil my protein needs. I can see a world in which cattle are no longer farmed for meat, but only for dairy, and burgers come from old dairy cows and bulls maintained exclusively for the breeding of dairy herds. Such meat would be expensive and ropy, but the benefits to the planet of cutting down on beef farming would be great.

Ensuring that I eat my five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables daily has become another little daily ritual. Looking over my log, I can see that in the first quarter of this year, I've managed this amount, 5.2 portions indeed. [A portion is a cupful. I don't count boiled/cooked vegetables, only raw.]

On the spiritual side - what have I learned this Lent? Mainly (the incident of Eddie's Three Tickets) that one should not look for Meaning in Coincidence. This is stuff straight out of the Coen Brothers' inestimably great movie A Serious Man. For three railway trips to Łódź in a row, Eddie gets a ticket for the same seat in the same carriage. The odds ostensibly come to 337 million to one. "What can such a sign... mean?" This Lent, I concluded that the answer is - nothing. Or is it?

Over the millennia, our species has devised complex theological structures to account for the intellectually baffling puzzle of coincidence. Entirely disconnected events - connected. Seemingly random? Or bearing meaning, that we can find if only we think about the connection hard enough?

Or is it neither and both? Consider the Schrodinger's Cat paradox mentioned in A Serious Man, along with the Uncertainty Principle. Is the ultimate answer, to quote Clive's father from the film "Please, accept the mystery"?

Stuff to ponder on. A life in balance must consist of a balanced amount of pondering and action.

And a happy 92nd birthday to my father, Warsaw Uprising veteran, Bohdan Dembinski - such strength of body and will in old age is an inspiration to me!

This time last year:
Happy 91st to my father!

This time two years ago:
My father at 90

This time three years ago:
An independent Scotland - what if?

This time four years ago:
Królikarnia - Warsaw's 'rabbit house'

This time seven years ago:
My father at 85

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