1. Day 40 - Rockin’ robins

    In which a migrant laborer gives up drugs for Lent, swims to an island, and gives Buddhism the once-over.

    Buddhism - tick.

    Swum to the island - tick.

    Giving up drugs - well, mostly ticked altho since March 22 I have drunk liters of coffee, consumed cannabis for a few days when ill, and imbibed a glass of champagne.

    Plus there’s still six days to go, but as we’re pretty much there I’d call GUDFL 2012 a success.

    In terms of subject matter for this here blog, there’s been plenty of miscellaneous music, druggy banter, and crime I plan to cover later this week.

    As for birds of New Zealand, I got up close to a number of endangered native robins this morning.

    I’m on the mailing list for the Mainland Island Restoration Operation (MIRO), who work in partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council in East Harbour Regional Park.

    They called for volunteers to take 40 North Island robins by helicopter from Kapiti Island, a large protected area off the west coast, and release them in the park behind my current location and home town of Eastbourne with the aim of establishing a sustainable population.

    Yes I know we’re all a bunch of tree huggers but in my opinion native flora and fauna is something to be encouraged and it’s nice to get involved.

    Take off was delayed due to fog, which is very unusual in the Wellington region, but eventually we heard the chopper as it headed toward the beach, and then a couple of four wheel drives pulled up with a bunch of cat boxes in the back.

    After a lengthy prayer from a kaumātua (Maori elder) and a brief briefing from the MIRO dude we were assigned a box, each with a single bird inside.

    I was fearful mine would be dead or maimed after its unsettling journey but it fluttered and chirped like a little gremlin all the way up the hill until it was time to ready to fly.

    Money shot below.

    New Zealand robin release - Butterfly Creek - April 1

    It felt a little bit special actually and I’m hoping next time I go up there my bird will come and land on my finger like I’m Snow White.

    Overall I feel pretty virtuous, calm and happy, which isn’t to say the prospect of a ingesting a shedload of intoxicating substances isn’t appealing.

    I will be a very cheap date however. 

  2. Day 10 - Om… om… omg…

    In which a migrant laborer gives up drugs for Lent, attempts to swim to an island and gives Buddhism the once-over.

    The ascending tones of the timer on my phone surprised me.

    'Ten minutes already?' I thought to myself.

    My meditation session was at its scheduled end and had clearly affected my perception of time.

    Visually everything appeared brighter in the aftermath altho that could probably be ascribed to the darkness of the room in which I had earlier undertaken my experiment.

    I felt calm and slightly reluctant to make myself a proper coffee, even tho it was afternoon and I had yet to imbibe.

    Normally I jack myself with caffeine within minutes of arising but this morning I went for decaff, for a couple of reasons.

    Firstly I had a doctor’s appointment and didn’t want to skew my blood pressure result and secondly I wanted to get to the right frame of mind for my bout of Zazen, which is Japanese for “seated meditation” apparently.

    I did pop a couple of ibuprofen and paracetamol to counter the effects of my cold but there was nothing recreational active in my system.

    As instructed by Wikihow I adopted the “half lotus” position, folded my hands into the “cosmic mudra” and set the timer for ten minutes as the recommended 15 seemed a bit long and I thought I might get kinda bored.

    At first I was a bit uncomfortable and I couldn’t keep my back very straight but as I breathed I was able to straighten a little.

    The pain in my legs faded.

    I counted to ten in time with my breath, and then again, and then again, and then again…

    Unlike yoga, in which my mind is often racing along with my pulse, few thoughts intruded.

    I did think about swimming in the harbor and how the sea is like the void if you can’t see the bottom.

    Dad told me water is used as a metaphor is Christian meditation, where one descends into the depths and lets thoughts float past leaving the meditator to encounter God.

    Buddhism however is atheistic, or perhaps more accurately, non-theistic.

    So in the depths there would be more depths and then… nothing.

    Later I wriggled into my wet suit and jogged down to the beach in the rain.

    The water was cold and murky and swelled like a massive breathing thing, going higher and higher as I neared the point.

    Emerging from the surf a wave knocked my left leg out from under me and I stumbled to one knee. 

    This Sunday is a 1.25 kilometer Wharf to Wharf swim: I’m hoping for a northerly and maybe a bit of sunshine.

    Light on wall

    And oh yes, here’s another mixed up mix from GUDFL 2012 featuring Emeli SandéNext To Me’, Collie BuddzPlayback’, AdeleRolling In The Deep' (Acapella), Nicole ScherzingerRight There’, R.E.M. - ‘What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?’, Arcade FireReady To Start’, MetronomyThe Look' (Ghostpoet Remix), Ladi6Bang Bang’, BeyonceEnd of Time’, DJ HellThe Angst’, Will YoungJealousy’, Swedish House Mafia vs Knife PartyAntidote' (Tommy Trash Remix), BurialLoner’, Suzanne VegaBlood Makes Noise

  3. Day 1: Single step

    In which a migrant laborer gives up drugs for Lent, attempts to swim to an island and gives a religion the once-over. This year Buddhism!

    Why Buddhism? Well partly because I’ve done Christianity, Islam and atheism so it’s Buddhism's turn, but also it seems in these straightened times a religion that's not about having it all is quite refreshing.

    Wikipedia tells me Buddhists should not consume any quantity of intoxicants which would “prevent mindfulness or cause heedlessness” so that’s most of the fun stuff out however as there’s no higher being to appease you could get on it discreetly and no-one need ever know ;)

    I’m not a particularly accomplished drinker so giving up the drug alcohol for Lent (or Buddhist equivalent) is unlikely to fuck with my program.

    However I do consume cannabis most days, and products containing caffeine pretty much every day.

    I did quit coffee for Lent once but don’t recommend it if you’ve a lifestyle or employment duties which requires you to operate without necessarily getting your eight hours beauty sleep every night.

    Caffeine is also notably useful if you’ve a physical training goal which involves aerobic exercise such as swimming.

    As giving up drugs for the 46 days of Lent is actually not that hard I also plan to paddle my way to an island.

    Specifically Makaro Ward Island (below), which is in the harbor of Wellington, New Zealand

    It’s only about 1500 meters off shore however conditions are variable and the sea is often rough.

    Eastbourne is pretty

    Other topics on the agenda till April 7 are birds native to this country, crime and music.

    Below is a link to a downloadable mix, tracklist as follows: Grimes Genesis’, Delilah Go’, Die Antwoord ‘I Fink U Freeky’, Redlight Get Out of My Head’, Burial Ashtray Wasp’, Guetta & MinajTurn Me On’, Väth vs RotherKomm' (Gregor Tresher remix), Avicii & LewisCollide’, AviciiLevels' (Skrillex remix), EnchanteReggay

    It was recorded on an iPad using the Djay app, altho I don’t yet have split output phones and I’m self-taught as of about three months ago so it’s a bit sloppy but should sound good if you put it on loud.