Day 48 and as commercial activity resumes and everybody begins the process of trying to inject warmth into a seriously battered and diminished economy some strange things are appearing out of the woodwork. Ages ago I consulted with a 'new age' dietician about my inner health. At the last visit, and it really was my last, I left the consulting room with a huge thorny wand of aloe in my hands that was to be steeped in boiling water and consumed for the purpose of 'healing your gut', and a feeling of disquiet. I had mentioned the intractable stresses in my life at that time and she said ‘you could always slip something into the person’s tea.’
Yesterday, because I’m still on the database, I received an email about a ‘longevity fasting diet,’ set to start when we transfer into level 2. I’ve never seen anything so silly, or so punitive. Day 1 was the generous starting day, you got a breakfast muffin, detox green soup for lunch, 10 olives as an afternoon snack and cauliflower with chumichumi sauce and an avocado pot mousse for dessert. It rapidly deteriorated from there. The olive snacks disappeared, there was only one more dessert, the avocado pot mousse on day 3. The meals were the same horrid soups swapped about and one pasta dish which seemed odd, pasta being heavy on calories. Am I being unkind? Of course it is well-intentioned, aimed at making you very thin and extending your life span, if that is really what you want, but now I’m remembering something more. I had to do a saliva test for this clinic, I can't remember why, and it had to be achieved first thing in the morning, before food and water had been consumed whilst in a state of dehydration. I had to spit and spit and spit into a plastic vial up to a certain level and in the midst of this a courier arrived and was waiting at the front door, for me to finish so he could despatch the sample to the Hawkes Bay whacky testing centre. I never got a result because the sample was insufficient!
Aue. The time of silence, when we tapped the pause button on consumer spending and stayed at home and the birds got louder and the fish returned to shallow waters, this precious time is coming to an end and the realisation is bittersweet. Emerging from this gentle vacuum of peace and quiet, this cocoon where in some respects I would like to huddle away for longer, into the madding world of buying and trading feels vexatious to the spirit. The words of Desiderata reverberate, ‘ Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be silence.’ It feels a bit like that. We will remember, won't we?
I have a hope that the time in freeze frame has changed the way many of us think and operate going forward. Alongside this statement goes an awareness that such a position is a luxury. There are people around the world at this moment, who are sick with the virus and any number of other illnesses, there are people dying and people who have died from covid-19, there are those made homeless and jobless by the economic meltdown and they are all suffering. We owe it to those who have lost so much during this unprecedented time and to those who will continue struggling into the future, to be more determined than ever to resist the light and trivial. I hope we will put our energies into reaching out and helping others more. That we will be more conscious of the irrationality and oddness of many modern day trends — the diet industry, the plastic cosmetic fantastic industry, the dominance and supersaturation of sporting activities to the exclusion of other ways of being (do we really need so much of this?) and another thing, though I recognise that our national airline has suffered and there has been a terrible loss of jobs and people are hurting, I am glad the planet has been spared its regular dousing of toxic fumes for almost eight weeks now. It is my hope going forward that the national carrier in an attempt to rein in expenditure will decide not to waste money on any further puerile safety videos and that refreshingly, like the old days, we will return to a far simpler and probably more effective method of communication whereby airline crew will stand in the aisles, legs firmly planted on the floor, as they demonstrate with seat belts and oxygen masks what to do in an emergency. That we will choose simplicity over fads.
Many will be glad to resume some of the old routines, hairdressers will be busy. A famous elder author I know said she longs for a massage. There is much I could do without and will have to if I want to continue the writing life. To live modestly that is the intention. Yesterday I gave myself a hard time because I overspent my food budget by $10, this was eight days after the last shop so maybe the extra spend was legitimate but the fact that I gave myself a talking to was a good sign I thought. How long does it take to shift old habits I wonder and was eight weeks in lockdown sufficient?
A moment ago I looked up from my desk and saw a kite soaring over the channel. The lime green sail caught my attention through the openings in the wooden venetian blinds. It moved gracefully, pulled along by the action of the wind and the surfer tugging on the lines down below. I couldn’t see the person creating the joy, it was too, too far away. If it was a line of music the swaying of this kite would be the soaring, lyrical line of the second movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. If it drew shapes, it would be cursive handwriting, like my grandmother’s rising and falling fluid script. Soon the floating fabric was joined by another, this one turquoise and together they performed the dance of scarves over the dull metal sea. Watching them play I found myself thinking how out there the wind would be hollering in the surfer’s ears and a mighty battle with the elements would be underway that would be both exhausting and exhilarating all at once, whereas in here it was blissfully silent.