Zen, Heat, Football, and Hayfever

The longest day is history (see my previous blog here) but the week gone was when the heat finally kicked in, albeit by the weekend it was quite cool again. However, my Hayfever also reappeared. Just went crazy for no specific reason. Meanwhile, the European Championship rolled on with all its ups and downs whilst Glastonbury arrived. And I read a book that rekindled my interest in the philosophy of Zen.

There are many facets to Zen Buddhism. I can’t take on any religion hook, line, and sinker these days. Indeed, I think very few of us can. Rather we pick and mix the bits of religions that we like – and what is wrong with that? There are several good websites about Zen. General ones like here or ones that can give more specific guidance on how to incorporate it into everyday life as here.

Hair peace, bed peace

For me, Zen is about just accepting life. Understanding that there is no supreme being running things. That life just happens though perhaps with subconscious influences as Freud indicated. And we just need to take life in our stride. Accepting good and bad things will happen. But that we just need to roll with it all and ‘enjoy’ the coincidences, variations, and setbacks (like Biden’s disastrous debate performance…)

“When you live your life with an appreciation of coincidences and their meanings, you connect with the underlying field of infinite possibilities.”

Deepak Chopra

‘The Book of Form and Emptiness’ by Ruth Ozeki

This was the book that resurrected my interest is Zen. Isn’t that one of the beautiful things about reading, the way it can bring us new interests or take us back to old ones? This is a library book and I really liked the look of it plus what people were saying about it. It also won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022. But it is quite long and I was worried if it would be a struggle to get through.

It definitely wasn’t the latter and I have adored reading this book. Ostensibly the story of a family dealing with the death of their father, it goes off in several directions around issues such as mental health and not fitting in with the norm. I loved it’s criticism of our modern obsession with ‘product fetishism’ – the empty idea of buying things to make us happy.

I don’t buy the idea that inanimate objects have voices – I’m too scientific for that. But we need to think about the world around us, not take it for granted. Plus seeing that things can be viewed from so many different perspectives (isn’t that what Cubism tried to teach us?). And that everyone has their story to tell no matter how fucking annoying they can be.

woman doing tree pose

‘Alchemy’ by S J Parris

Definitely not a book about Zen but another one of my group of historical fiction writers who I enjoy going back to when the next book in the series arrives. Parris (in reality Stephanie Merritt) has created a series of books based on the life of Giordano Bruno. There is a lot of artistic licence and we are back into the familiar arena of meeting famous people then being dragged into dirty court politics.

Bruno himself is a fascinating person and worth investigating in his own right – witness his Wiki page here. Born into the chaos of late sixteenth century religious strife, he was an amazing free thinker and a great scientist of the Renaissance period. Yet, he was driven to flee across Europe trying to find safety and sanctuary before ultimately being cruelly burnt alive by the Catholic Church as a heretic.

‘The Atrocities’ by Jeremy C Shipp

A novella really and a quick read. Although it’s not the most fluently written book I have ever read. Basically it’s a retelling of Henry James’ ‘Turn of the Screw’. We have the governess and it’s unclear if the child is dead or alive. It’s set in the present time but it’s incredibly gothic. TBH, a decent horror story but there could have been a lot more to it.

Spirit

Zen in the gym

Yippee – three great workouts done all on my ideal days and times: Mon, Wed, Fri mornings. My workouts are quite Zen-like in that I don’t go in with a set rota of exercises to be done. Nor do I concentrate on a certain body area(s) on certain days. Rather I go with what feels right and I always focus on an all body workout.

61 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £9 per session.

range of dumbells

Swim and walk

Had thought about trying to get in 2 swimming sessions last week. And I got to the pool on Tues afternoon. Despite the hot weather, it was relatively quiet but I restricted myself to just 20 lengths.

I had planned to go as well on Thurs morning. But the combination of generally being knacked and hayfever kicking in, meant it didn’t happen. But that day I also had a hospital appointment for tests and so I decided to do a long purposeful walk there and back. Quite Zen-like again as I used the time to read my kindle, practice my Duolingo, and just enjoy the world around me.

The jump

Hayfever hits

Wow, this was the week when my hayfever really kicked in. Every year it comes and I forget how bad it can be until it is really bad. Woke up on Wed morning with a sore throat, sneezes, and itchy eyes. It could have been a cold but I have had some lesser similar symptoms for the past few weeks.

I probably should take something for it. However, with the daily cocktail of meds I am already taking, I am concerned of drug inter-actions. So I just to roll with it and get through my stock of handkerchiefs in a way that I rarely do any other time of the year.

spreading disease

Weight: A welcome dip

I really should have a more Zen attitude to my weight. Not over-focusing on trying to lose weight but also not letting my eating go so that my weight just goes up and up. A pleasant surprise this week of a drop back under 13 stone. One swallow does not a summer make. But it’s nice to have a bit of correction and movement in the right direction.

Dave is in Berlin

My beloved partner is off gallivanting in Berlin – a city we both have a soft spot for. He’s had a hard time recently and wanted a break. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it because I had an appointment with my mum at the hospital. Plus it’s important that he has time to himself. I like holidays on my own sometimes, it’s a great way to recharge doing what you want when you want.

But we are keeping in regular contact. He had a rubbish journey out but kept his cool. 2 hour delay taking off, half hour wait at Brandenberg for a bus to the terminal, and then an hour to get through security. But if he insists on going in the middle of the Euros then that’s what it’s going to be like.

He’s been to some of our favourite restaurants, coffee shops, and clubs. Plus he’s checked out the fan zones to watch the footie though he said they are crazy busy. Indeed, apparently much of our beloved Tier Garten is sealed off with metal fences as so often happens in London’s parks with big events.

Berlin

Mum: Hospital visit

Mum’s had a bit of a rough week. We didn’t get to Hammersmith again. And some of the tasks we were going to do around the flat together she just didn’t feel up to. However, we did make it to the hospital on Saturday morning for her ophthalmology appointment. Hospital was nice and calm; she was actually seen relatively quickly despite having to need all the eye tests done as well.

Patrick and Frances: A good pub lunch with free wine

Met up with Patrick and Frances on Sunday for a nice pub lunch. Mum was invited but didn’t feel up to it. Little bit of drama when the guy bringing over the food managed to drop one of the plates though it landed on the table rather than on Patrick. Replacement meal arrived pretty quick and we were each given a free glass of wine to make up for it so all good.

A great dinner with Dom

Also caught up with my old mate Dom on Wed evening. Me and Dave met him for a very pleasant meal. Dave was quite self-conscious after his fall last week with the injuries to his face. So it was important for him to be out in public and ignore the looks. Dom is a great guy and it’s always a pleasure just chewing the cud with him.

‘In our time’

I’ve recently discovered on the BBC Sounds app all the back editions of this brilliant radio programme. The main presenter is Melvyn Bragg whose voice is so distinctive and relaxing. And he has a range of brilliant guests to speak to the issues he is discussing. Recent episodes have included intellectual heavyweights such as Germaine Greer, Eric Hobsbawm, and Richard Evans.

I’ve gone right back to the beginning of the series in 1999. My intention is to work through all the different episodes. Wonderfully ambitious and it will take time but this is the sort of Zen thing we have to do sometimes. I love just listening to the discussions albeit some are a bit dated having happened around a quarter of a century ago; the world has changed so much since then. For instance, there are lots of references to the Yugoslavian conflicts which won’t mean anything to young people.

Zen soundwaves

The escapism of Glastonbury and the Euros

There is something lovely about watching big events like this, being able to dip in and out. I think it’s the way these show an alternative life we could lead. Where all that matters is to enjoy yourself. The way people dress up and act out their alternative egos.

Though I wish some of the male fans at the Euros could bin their prehistoric toxic masculinity. And I think putting Coldplay as the main act on Saturday showed a lack of imagination. Best bits for me were Fontaines DC and Cyndi Lauper.

Wimbledon next week. Not my thing but again pure escapism for so many people.

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy. It’s all that matters.”

Audrey Hepburn

  • Hopefully I’m going to keep hold of this new Zen approach to chill and enjoy life
  • Still weighing up whether to stay up all night to watch election results come in on Thurs night / Fri morning or just go to bed after the exit poll is released
  • Plan is 3 gym workouts and a swim
  • Spending time with mum and Patrick. Dave’s not back until Tuesday and we are off to my niece’s graduation party at the weekend.
  • Going to carry on with my eclectic reading. Should finish ‘Bored Gay Werewolf’ in time for the Velvet Page book club on Thursday. Plus I am veering off to read a biography of the Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico.
Election time

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.