Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Correction: the "Just-Don'-Do-It" principle

You might have read that, last week, I had this sudden epiphany. As if finally seeing the Truth, I realised that the way to get things done was, well, to do them!

Galvanised by this ground-breaking revelation, I set out to finally get up early in the morning. Proper early, 5.30am. There have been some hiccups in the past week, but all in all, I'm pleased to say that I've made it. For the past few days, I've opened my eyes at exactly 5.30am, before the alarm going off, and got up to a glorious start. A quick coffee, a couple of deep breaths in the cold WA morning, and then 20-30mins of meditation or, as John Kabat-Zinn says, of paying attention to the present moment.

"Just do it!" is the motto. Don't ask yourself why you are getting up; rather, get up! "Become an early riser!" says Brett McKay, from AoM, a blog I read and respect. It's the "5am Miracle"!, as Jeff Sanders describes it. Too easy.

The Just Do It principle applies to a large chunk of society, apparently. All this people out there, determined to get things done, and struggling to find the right way, or just the time, for doing them. There's one clear rule for you to follow: Get out of bed. Just do it.

However, based on my own experience, there is also a - so far overlooked- Just Don't Do It principle. It  applies to a different demographic, or at least a different age group. A group that, though not very busy, nor obsessed with getting things done, finds it extremely easy to get up very early in the morning. This group has at least one member, my son, Child n. 1.

The Just Don't Do It principle goes like this:

Do not get up. Stay in bed. You are still to sleep. Go back to your bedroom. It is 5.30am for God's sake, this is my time, not yours. I didn't rape my own nature to stand in this kitchen with you before sunrise. No, you cannot watch TV, it's too bloody early. I'm not angry, I'm just frustrated. Let me drink my coffee, at least. Alright, let's play Lego. 


Thursday, 28 January 2016

The red bit

The following conversation occurred this morning, between me and Child n.1, while he was getting ready to go to school. He is 5-year old.

  • C1: You know daddy, this morning, I was doing a wee, so I pulled my penis out, but then I took the red bit out and
  • Me: Hang on, what?
  • C1: When I was going to do a wee, I took the red bit out and it went everywhere.
  • Me: Wait. What are you talking about? What red bit?
  • C1: The red bit that is inside the penis. 
  • Me: (...)
  • C1: So I took the red bit out, and then did a wee, and it went everywhere, all on my pyjama.
  • Me: OK... [trying to look unperturbed while thinking hard about what to say]... don't do it again. You may hurt your penis. And ruin the pyjama.
  • C1: Alright. Can I have breakfast?

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The "Just Do It" principle, or 'finding the man's cave'.

We have quickly absorbed the impact of the Burma holiday. The last days in Yangon were pleasant, and we made it back safely to OZ, as planned, although after a physically and mentally draining return trip. PEOPLE WITH SMALL CHILDREN: beware of cheap airlines, like this one. They offer you low prices, but once on board, they will make you pay even for a glass of water for your children. Plus, you'll be squashed in a tiny space, with no bassinet nor entertainment. But hey, it's cheap.

Anyway, we are now back to our pleasant and protected life by the beach, hoping not to be still incubating scary tropical diseases. It's been good to return to the comfort of Western life (though we never really abandon that in Myanmar). I suppose it's just good to be able to drink tap water, without worrying about typhoid.

Energised by the recent adventures, for the past few days I have been embracing the Just Do It principle. It doesn't mean I've been buying Nike stuff: rather, I have been fighting one of my arch-enemies, i.e. the "Why?"-question.

"Why doing it?". What's the point of getting up very early in the morning in order to meditate, go for a run, write, or study 18th century German Idealism?  This kind of questions will always defeat me because, although all these activities might be pleasant and, overall, beneficial to myself, the question is "Why now? Why not tomorrow or later?". And there is no winning reply to that, my friend, unless you are Horace and live every day as if it was the last one.

I think we tend to ask the "Why?" question more and more as we age, because we get tired of things. There's just so much crap going on in our normal days, stuff that we cannot avoid (work, screaming kids, screaming wives) and we take that as an excuse to not do the things that we enjoy, but that require energy, time, and some kind of perseverance. I'm not gonna get faster if I run only when I feel like doing it; I am not, eventually, coming to control my sea-wandering mind if I don't meditate every day; nor will I ever grasp the influence of Kant and Fichte on Hegel's philosophy, without regular engagement with whatever the hell they have written.

So, at 5.30am (ish), I just get up. It's out of reach for the kids, in most cases. Which gives me a safe 45 minutes to drink my coffee in the silence of the Australian sunrise, and then meditate. Then, on alternate days (and subject to family mechanics on the specific day), it's either run or study. I have done it for a few days, so there's nothing to celebrate as of yet. But it is a very welcome change, and I hope to turn it into a hexis.

I think this all goes back to the need for a man's cave.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Holiday in Burma - Act III: Did we make it?

We are back in Yangon, living the pampered expat life at our friends' house for another day. Tomorrow morning it's back to OZ.
The last week has proven to be pretty hard child-wise, yet overall pleasant. We survived Bagan, and then had an enjoyable 4 days in Ngapali, where we befriended a nice American family, who basically saved our holiday. They had two kids age 5-7, who became the centre of Child1's world: he was happy to play with them for most of the time, rather than yelling stuff like "Mummy and daddy, you're worse than I thought!!" as he had done in Bagan, at the hotel pool, in front of various amused/shocked onlookers. We worry he might have anger management issues, and that we might not be dealing with it very well.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Holiday in Burma - Act II: of Maids and broken evenings

We left Yangon this morning VERY early (up at 4am), also leaving our spoiled expat life.
The latter was the result of staying at some friends' place, friends who are truly expats, having lived in Yangon for the past 2 years, and being westerners. "Expat", in fact, is the word westerners have invented to avoid having to call themselves "immigrant", which sounds too immigrant.
We are left with mixed feelings about the expat life, especially having children.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Holiday in Burma - Act I: is it going to be a holiday?

The New Year had begun with a massive Challenge, a 2-week trip to Burma/Myanmar with the family.
We left Perth at 8.30am on NYD. You would be surprised by how many people were queueing at Perth Intl Airport at 6am on the 1st of January. It's been the first NYE I have gone to bed before midnight, and to be honest didn't feel that sad. At least the 200 other passengers must have done the same, though many looked hungover, like the immigration police officer at Perth, who checked at our passport and boarding passes, and whispered expressionlessly "youse on holiday?.."

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Santa Cop is coming for you

24th of December, Christmas in the air.

Everyone is happy, busy shopping for last-minute gifts, smiling and wishing a Merry Christmas to each other.

This morning, I go to the post office to send a belated present to a friend. I decide to take the bike, for it's a beautiful sunny day, and everyone is out in the car - so parking would be a massive headache.