Thursday 27 October 2016

Learning to push less and glide more

Published 15/06/2015 | 02:30

Push push, glide: When it comes to both roller skating and free time, it's a question of adopting Peppa Pig's mantra
Push push, glide: When it comes to both roller skating and free time, it's a question of adopting Peppa Pig's mantra

I have to admit I have forgotten what the whole point of this thing was in the first place. I've been writing about the diet for so long that I'm not really sure what it is we used to do here every week. Roughly speaking, it was probably about time, getting old, mortality, death, and the things we do to distract ourselves from those awful things.

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And the diet, in a way, was just one of those things. It was a project to give the illusion of progress, the illusion that we have some control over things.

I'm doing a final week on the Taylor Made Diet as we speak, just to reset after a week's holiday. But the weird thing is I didn't put on much weight even on the holidays. I enjoyed myself, don't get me wrong. I had a few cold ones at beer o'clock every day and beer o'clock got earlier and earlier as the holiday went on. I had my ice creams and treats, and in the absence of Pringles on site, I developed a severe Doritos habit towards the end of the week. But I guess in general I didn't medicate with carbs and sugar. For example, I had no big yen for a load of bread and buns in the morning. My normal buffet breakfast on holidays is a three-course affair. Fruit, eggs and bread, and then buns and coffee. But weirdly, I didn't feel like it this time. I loved my cheesy omelette. I also seem to have developed a liking for salads, which is weird. And I have lost all interest in potatoes except in their most glorious forms - chipped or mashed. Sugar, I can take or leave, most of the time. I think I have changed. Like that will last!

So what now? Well, I'm not sure. Between the diet ending and the TV show ending, I feel somewhat like a man released from prison, and I'm not sure I know how to behave in the real world. The TV show led to highly structured weeks where the whole week was driven along by work. There was always something that had to be done next, a routine for every day, and I knew if I didn't do, say, Wednesday evening's stuff on Wednesday evening I could get a pile-up sometime on Friday. There was always this sense of having been freed from an institution at this time every year. After 33 weeks of the routine, I suddenly found myself released into the wild at the start of June and unsure of how to conduct what other people call a life. It's an unsettling feeling. You still have the feeling that you should be doing something all the time because the schedule is so tight that if you waste any time it will lead to stress. I believe this could be similar to how workaholics feel. Always slightly on edge in any situation, because they feel they should be somewhere else, doing something productive.

If you do manage to relax you're not sure what you should be doing. Should you be having wild crazy fun all the time? Are you wasting precious downtime by just hanging around doing nothing? Naturally I'm tempted to make a list of all the things I should be doing. But gradually I am realising that I just need to go with the flow. Switch off the tyrant voice in my head that says that everything should have a point leading to some grander point. I'm trying not to plan my liberation too excessively. Not to demand that I have a packed schedule of free-time things to do.

For example, I am teaching the older one how to roller skate. I don't know how to rollerskate myself I hasten to add, but my wife has give me a mantra from Peppa. Push push, glide. And like all great teachers, while I may not know how to do something myself, I sure as hell know how it should be done. We have progressed from her holding my hand all the time to her going the length of the garden on her own before crashing into me. It has enough of a sense of a project to satisfy that side of my brain, while also being enough of a switch-off to put the two of us into the moment, without any running narrative of 'time is passing. She will never be this age, and this cute, and this much in love with her dada again and it's all slipping away and in the blink of an eye she will be gone and I will be ancient'.

Slowly I am getting there. Conquering my addictions by developing new ones. I will learn to live in the free world, without a watertight schedule and my food delivered in a bag. It's scary out here, but it's starting to be fun.

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