I am off work this week. Part of the reason for taking these days in particular is that I wanted to help out at the charity that I’m treasurer of. Two of us said we’d go in today and tomorrow to complete a specific task. By 2pm this afternoon, it was done. I then enjoyed the rest of the day in Birmingham – eating, shopping (a rarity!), taking in the city in the sunshine. Finishing the job early has also left me with a free day tomorrow. What shall I do with it? I’m relishing the prospect of some unstructured time. It feels like a huge swathe of freedom lies ahead of me. Maybe I could go somewhere. Maybe I could stay at home. Maybe I could make plans to see friends. Maybe I could sit outside with my latest knitting project. In fact, it is so free that I’m almost overwhelmed with options. In a week that’s quite busy with doing things and travelling (Oxford, Manchester and Budapest as well as Birmingham on the itinerary), I’m taken with the idea of doing nothing very much at all. At the same time, I so rarely have a commitment-free day that I want to seize the opportunity and do something unexpected. Which side wins out remains to be seen, but whichever prevails, I know I’m blessed to have so many lovely choices to pick between.
This evening didn’t quite go as I’d imagined (gym induction, curry). My friend rang during the afternoon. She was at the gym filling out the paperwork. They definitely couldn’t do the induction this evening. So instead I decided to go out for dinner on my bike. Only having been shut away all winter, it needed a bit of a service. There’s nothing like doing something vaguely mechanical to make one feel like a feminist! By the time I’d finished checking it over, it had started to rain. It continued to rain heavily enough to stop me cycling. In the end, I went to my friend’s for an aperitif while we waited for the other pair to finish at the gym. So I wound up with the curry but no pre-curry exercise. Not exactly what I’d planned, but it bought me more time with the “how do I stand on gyms” dilemma (see yesterday’s post).
I have a great group of male friends who I’ve known since sixth form college. Our lives have all moved on now and we rarely all get together as a group anymore, but I still have a fierce love for them and cannot help but think of them as ‘my boys’. Whenever I know I’m going to see them, my chest tightens with happiness. I joked with one of them at Easter that my problem with men is that none are as good as they are; many a true word said in jest, I’ve reflected since.
Despite not seeing each other that often now we are older, the last twenty-four hours has seen a flurry of contact and reminders about how much I love them and what a solid, stalwart presence they are in my life – whatever the circumstances or distance between us. One got in touch quite out of the blue yesterday morning to arrange meeting up next week. In the afternoon, I found a postcard that another had sent me telling me of his engagement in Cornwall. The fact that he’d taken the time to write and send me a postcard of his news so thrilled me at the time that I’ve kept it, I guess as a symbol of friendship and feeling connected. Then in the evening came a text exchange that has continued this morning, culminating in the friend saying he’ll come down from Edinburgh (ie about 250 miles) to see me one Saturday when I’m free. In response to my surprise at this gesture, he said ‘why wouldn’t I go that far to visit you?’. Thanks, Rob – it’s only 9.04am and you’ve made my day.
The title of this post is the name of some kind of old rugby song that my dad used to sing. Whenever I mention that I’ve been/am going to zumba, he always retorts ‘I zigga zumba’ – so much so that whenever I think of zumba, I too mentally say ‘I zigga zumba’ to myself. My attendance at zumba (one class when down in Surrey and/or one class at home) has been pretty consistent and regular since my post-break-up decision to get fit. I’ve been really enjoying it. I’ve also been enjoying badminton when I’m able to make that. However, I feel I’m missing exercise options at weekends: classes are less frequent and the recent weather has hardly been conducive to getting outside in the fresh air. So I’ve decided to go along to my local gym as I’ve no excuses for not going there at the weekend. This feels like a big decision in lots of ways, not least because I feel like gyms are a hugely consumerist capitalist response to a basic human need to be active. They’re not good for the environment either; all that equipment, all that electricity, all that air conditioning. I’m telling myself that it’s okay as this is a municipal facility and I can kid myself that my pay-as-you-go sessions are subsidising children’s swimming lessons, although am not convinced by this self-deception. It is just so difficult when one’s principals (gyms are bad) clash with other imperatives (the need to be healthy and fit, and trying to juggle that with working in two different locations). To ease the pain of my first trip tomorrow, have arranged to meet some friends there and we are going for a curry afterwards. I feel like a wimp but am hoping that this diversionary tactic will ease my conscience.
Why are even seemingly simple life choices so complex? Where do we draw the line in efforts to live sustainable lives? Does my obligation to live sustainably by being healthy (stewardship of one’s body, as recently called for in an article that appeared in the Friend,http://thefriend.org/article/diseases-of-affluence/) outweigh the environmental impact of my going to the gym? Does the fact that the gym will be open & polluting the atmosphere whether I go or not absolve me from my concern? Or is that just a cop-out? Is this really a big issue or am I beating myself up too much about it?
I’m not panicking. At least I don’t think I am. I feel like I should be. I do feel a little bit worried, but I’m not thinking ‘OMG I need to do something about this situation now else my life will fall apart’ so I guess I’m not panicking. ‘The situation’ is that my USB stick has decided to corrupt itself. At least that’s what I think has happened to it. At 6pm this evening, it was fine. At 9pm this evening, when I plugged it, my computer told me ‘Device needs formatting’. I have tried to in every USB slot. I have tried re-starting. In short, I’ve tried all the little tricks that usually sort out such hiccups but to no avail. It isn’t the end of the world: it hasn’t been long since my last back-up, plus I can take it to a computer shop in the next day or so to see if they can retrieve anything from it. Even so, I know that normally I would be catasrophising by now: I am cursed, doomed to failure, destined to have to re-type every piece of work I’ve ever produced. Of course, this is nonsense, but that doesn’t stop such warped spirals of thought. Today, though, is different. Today, I am in a good place. Today, I have accepted that it is just one of those things and that my life as I know it is not going to end. I am not panicking. Although part of me still wants to panic because it seems strangely comforting; it seems slightly more satisfying than going ‘Oh well’. But ‘oh well’ will have to do.
The photograph shows the first painting that I have done in approximately seventeen years, produced whilst away on a weekend retreat. I cannot remember the last time that I wielded a paintbrush for purely decorative or creative purposes, but it certainly hasn’t been seen since I picked my GCSE options. I wasn’t much good then, and the limited artistic merits of this depiction of trees demonstrates that I haven’t improved in the mean time. But it was great to just sit down and have the opportunity to express oneself in a different medium – paints and brushes rather than needles and pins.