Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Lent starts at midnight - make the most of it
After an evening of whisky, wine, beef, more whisky and a Red IPA (Ruda Maruda from Browar Waszczukowe) to sip while writing, it'll be time for Abstinence with a Capital A. For 46 days, as usual. My first proper Lent - giving up alcohol from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday - was in 1992. Since then, more and more things have been added to the 'giving it up' list (alcohol always there), the apogee coming in 2008, when I gave up meat and dairy and fish and existed on a totally vegan diet for the duration. Nothing so harsh this year.
I'll be giving up alcohol and meat (the hard ones), plus the easy ones (which hardly get a look-in to my daily diet anyway) confectionery, cakes, biscuits, salt snacks, and added salt from the shaker. Coffee - one cup a day, in the morning.
Plus exercise - since 1 January, I've rigorously (with one week's remission while in London) been exercising; now I'm up to 25 press-ups plus 100 sit-ups plus six chin-ups plus three lots of weights twice a day. This will continue for as long as possible, the aim being to beat last year's record.
More importantly, over the past few years, I've taken this time of year to go into greater depth into the mind and spirit. Expect more posts about the unity of body, brain and soul. And health - of body, mind and spirit. And mindfulness with a lowercase 'm'. Yes, it's that time of year when my blog's readership halves; the 20,000-plus page views a month fall away to less than 10,000 by Easter.
This is what I want to write about - I want to ask questions about what we are, why we are, where we are heading, what we are made of. What is it all about? What do we expect of life? What is expected of us? What's the purpose? Why wake up in the morning?
Life should be a series of questions, a long and tiring trudge with many true insights and many false trails along the way - but at the end - are we any wiser? Człowiek całe życie się uczy, ale głupi umiera ('man learns all his life, but dies stupid') is a very fatalist (and if I may say so, a very Polish) mindset, with which I entirely disagree.
Life is for learning. Developing continually, expanding what we know, what we understand (do you really understand, say - electricity, like truly?)... The quest for knowledge has become so much easier. Google and Wikipedia have given mankind access to tens of thousands of libraries of knowledge. If you really want to know about anything - it's now available by pressing a few dozen keys. But it's about turning the knowledge into wisdom. That does take a lifetime of active seeking, of chance insights and putting it all together in one synthesis.
Yet though we progress, our lives are short - what's our 100 years in the 13.8 billion year history of our universe - and when we die, what of that learning that's been acquired? It needs to be encoded and communicated to the future [Partially, a deep reason why I blog.] Are we wiser as a species than we were 1,000 years ago? 2,000 years ago? Yes, I think we are.
I do want to return to those supernatural aspects - yearnings - longings - that many of us have - are we souls embodied in flesh and bone, or are we flesh and bone with souls - or are we just flesh and bone that imagine we have souls? I firmly believe the former, but Lent is a time of examination, of sincere questioning, of planting footholds on the mountainside ready to propel ourselves upward - and hoping we'll not slip and tumble back down.
Lent happens at that magic time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, when winter is approaching its end and the miracle of spring is waiting for happen. With empty, unsated stomachs, our spirits should be keen and open to receive the light of truth.
For the next 46 days, this blog will focus on the body, mind and spirit as a singular whole. Join me for another Lenten quest, the challenging search for another step in the direction of universal truth - we will not get there in our current bodies, but get there we will.
[PAFF! Madame Blavatsky - like, where did that thought suddenly pop up from? Those eyes...]
This time last year:
Coincidence and survival
This time four years ago
The Book of Revelations
This time five years ago:
Strong late-winter sunshine
This time six years ago:
Best pics from February 2011
This time seven years ago:
This time nine years ago:
End of the line