Thursday, March 5, 2009

What I Do 1

I'm a strange person.
I get up at three thirty in the morning on a daily basis, even though I don't have to. That's weird, I admit it. Why do I get up that early? It's funny you should ask. I get up that early in order to get most of the stuff done that I wish to do that day. If I could, I wouldn't go to sleep at all, but I've been told that a certain amount of sleep is required to maintain good health and sanity. Still I feel sleeping is a big waste of time. "I'll sleep enough when I'm dead," the saying goes, and death comes all to fast, although I am actively trying to avoid that as well (google Ray Kurzweil, who, like me, wants to live forever. However, with my luck I'll die about three weeks before we figure out how to do it).
Anyway, so I get up, swallow a tablet of levothyroxine (because my thyroid keeps acting silly), and turn on the radio to KTLK, my local progressive talk radio station. At that time in the morning Bill Press is thirty minutes into his show. Broadcasting from Washington D.C. Bill is a former chair of the California Democratic Party, author, and very nice man. fifteen years older than I am, he's usually so enthusiastic and excited by life and his job that he sounds like a kid. At this point I usually lie back down on my bed for five minutes, then spring up and get busy.
I make a nice cup of coffee and turn my TV from the classical music station which has been on during my brief slumber, to CNN. I usually watch MSNBC all day, but at three thirty, Morning Joe is on, with the conservative Joe Scarborough hosting, and I have little patience with conservatives, especially at three thirty in the morning.
I then blink stupidly at my computer screen for several minutes, trying to get my eyes working properly.
Then I check my E-mail to see if I've received any urgent messages that need my immediate attention. However, I never receive urgent messages. I hope one day I'll get one.
Then I read from several books to try and get my mind functioning. Just a few pages from each book, so at least a steady progress is made daily. Currently I'm reading "Ulysses," by my namesake, James Joyce (we're both Irish, and we both don't spend anytime in Ireland). Almost finished with this one, I'm on the last section often referred to as "Penelope." I'm also reading "How the Mind Works," by the MIT cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker. I feel that if you have a mind you might as well know how it works.
I'm also reading "The Ides of March," the epistolary novel concerning Julius Caesar, by one of my favorite authors, and probably the most eclectic, Thornton Wilder.
I also read the daily Zen saying from "Zen Wisdom," by Timothy Freke. Today's saying, for example is: "A monk asked Wei-shan why Bodhidarma had come to China. In answer, the master held up his teaching stick." Well, that's pretty unambiguous, and speaks for itself.
Accordingly I then meditate, with the lights off, TV returned to the classical music and radio off, with a little scented candle burning in front of my meditation mat (an old dirty white blanket), and a small stone. I count 400 breaths, trying to think of nothing but counting to 400 breaths, but inevitably thinking of all manner of things, like what my next blog post will be about.
Why do I meditate? I find it a relaxing way to start the day, and I'm always curious about what my next blog entry will be about.
I then spring up and start my daily exercise session. This usually contains a smooth mixture of yoga, stretching, and calisthenics. Push ups, sit ups, and seventy three count burpies, you know the drill. I also left heavy objects a few times, then put them back down again. I do this to maintain a small degree of flexibility and body strength. At my age (53) you have to use it or lose it. Not owning a car, I also walk a great deal, which I'm told is good for you.
A nice hot shower follows all that strenuous exercise. I have to shower each day because of my hair. While I sleep my hair manages to entangle, fold, bend itself into the most shocking angles one could possibly conceive, and it can only be resuscitated by washing it. Hence, I have to wash my hair in the shower every day there is the remotest chance that I will encounter another human being. If I were bald I wouldn't have to shower at all! I try to use as little water as possible as California is currently experiencing it's third consecutive year of serious drought. The Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger (only in California could this guy be Governor... or Minnesota), has even declared a state of emergency about our lack of water and may start rationing it next month, which to me is particularly vexing as I happen to use water, to some degree, almost everyday.
I've been trained to shower with the minimum use of water while in the navy. There a shower stall is commonly referred to as the rain locker. Step in wet yourself down, turn off the water, soap up, turn the water back on, rinse off, exit rain locker. I'm not saying I actually follow that ritual, but it's a good way to save water.
I then dry myself off, and put on my clothes.
By this time it is close to six o'clock and I'm ready to start the real work of the day, which is the hardest part of my day. Writing.
To be continued.

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