1. Day 46: Over

    So the end is at the beginning, maybe a little further along.

    Found a great swamp!

  2. Day 25: Shag

    Just saw a shag, a type of cormorant, fishing in a shallow bay.

    A big gull flew over in the half light, looking to rob the shag.

    Its dive was checked as the far smaller shag thrust out a spiky beak, seemingly more in annoyance than desire to wound.

    Unoffended but hungry, the gull flew to the shore.

    It watched as the shag tossed and swallowed small pieces of silver.

  3. Day 8: Vegetation

    Gonna go for a 40-odd minute run, as prescribed for Wednesday of the second week of the army fitness challenge.

    I’ll keep an eye out for this “strange orchid” along one of my favorite bush tracks. (Photo is from ‘Seasons in the Forest’ by Enting and Dawson.)

    I’m not sure if my scheduled break from abstinence on Monday was a good idea. Sure I enjoyed it but I felt rough yesterday despite only having one beer.

    Also I had an unexpectedly strong desire to consume cannabis. It was successfully resisted but it was like my body figured normal service was resumed and yowled for the drug like a kitten demanding milk.

    Weirdly I feel strong despite wooziness, brought on perhaps by an infected thumb and antibiotics I’ve been taking.

    The course is done but digit is not fixed unfortunately. However the whole process killed my appetite and I feel very light.

    I did a half marathon for the first time a couple of weeks ago which I found difficult but was kinda surprised to discover actually requires very little food input. I think I had two bananas, a strong coffee and a couple of energy bars and didn’t feel underpowered.

    It’s not like I’ve lost a lot of weight either so it appears you can exercise reasonably strenuously and maintain mass without stuffing your face.

    It’s made me look at food differently, specifically the amount I thought was required. Also the feeling of fullness I always associated with a satisfying meal is now somewhat uncomfortable.

    If I try to eat amounts similar to my previous intake I feel overstuffed, like my stomach has shrunk.

    An animist would probably feel food, particularly meat, has or had a particularly lively spirit.

    I’m trying to be more conscious of what I put in my mouth, eat slower and chew more, rather than just bite twice and swallow.

    I figure if something had to die so I could consume it, at the very least I should taste it properly and only eat when I’m hungry and not just because I’m bored.

    Maybe I can eat things I find in the forest. It’s probably not legal but I bet a kereru (huge native pigeon) is pretty tasty.

    Apparently they’re central to the survival of the bush, playing a key role in seed dispersal.

  4. Day 6: The essence of rock’n’roll

Dreamed a lot about Mötley Crüe for some reason last night. Main themes seemed to be rehab and whether or not we should be drinking beer. 

Seems ironic to have one of the least abstemious bunch of trash heads on my mind when I’m living so clean. 

Above is a photo I took of drummer Tommy Lee with dj Erick Morillo at Pacha Ibiza back in 2004, first published here: http://www.ibiza-spotlight.com/night/reviews/2004/steep_i.htm

    Day 6: The essence of rock’n’roll

    Dreamed a lot about Mötley Crüe for some reason last night. Main themes seemed to be rehab and whether or not we should be drinking beer.

    Seems ironic to have one of the least abstemious bunch of trash heads on my mind when I’m living so clean.

    Above is a photo I took of drummer Tommy Lee with dj Erick Morillo at Pacha Ibiza back in 2004, first published here: http://www.ibiza-spotlight.com/night/reviews/2004/steep_i.htm

  5. Day 4: Sweet smoke

    Woke up today wanting to do dope.

    So far I have resisted but it is on my mind. This is the sixth edition of GUDFL and the feeling is familiar - calmness bordering on boredom.

    My lungs feel amazing, there is no tickle at the back of my throat, and definitely none of the worrying pain I used to get when I inhaled combusted plant matter.

    Even vaporizing, which I switched to about four years ago, can be a little uncomfortable.

    I usually mitigate the heat by holding an ice cube in my mouth but even so my airways feel constricted after a couple of puffs.

    Counterintuitively this may have actually improved my lung function.

    For a recent role I was comprehensively looked over by a doctor and my lung capacity, or forced vital capacity, is a huge 7.89 liters. This is 140% of that predicted. Like wtf.

    Anyway, I’m off to do a variety of army-style ups, squats and arches.

    Enjoy your Saturday fellow office drones.

    Btw in the course of my brief research into the relationship between lung function and cannabis use I came across this site: https://www.pothelp.org.nz/this-is-my-story/about-pot

    That page includes the following nonsensical sentence: “Cannabis is the most commonly-used drug in New Zealand – 14 percent of people use it regularly.”

    Dear Pothelp, incontrovertibly cannabis use has negative health consequences both mental and physical.

    But engaging in the kind of doublespeak which attempts to pretend alcohol, nicotine or even caffeine aren’t drugs instantly alienates you from your intended audience.

    If you really want to help people you’ve got to go in hard against prohibition, otherwise you’re just pissing taxpayer money into the wind.

  6. Day 1: My way


    I’m on an old path it seems.
    The way is crooked and uneven but clear and soft underfoot. I feel connected with the environment.
    There is no internet, there is no mobile phone network.
    I know my latitude and longitude because my position can be calculated to within 10 meters or so from Global Positioning System satellites.
    Trees here are large, up to maybe 30 meters high, but they do not grow in such profusion so as to obscure my signal. 
    The birds… the birds sing. And gargle, croak, flap and chortle.
    I believe them to be conscious but not mindful of dualism.
    Probably neither are they concerned with the nature of animism, the belief that we all inhabit the same plane, which I guess either means everything has a spirit, or nothing does.
    In relation to the consumption of drugs, this concept is fairly simple to grasp.
    Indeed the word spirit can refer to an incarnation of the drug alcohol.
    Alcohol is routinely anthropomorphised - assigned human characteristics - in everyday speech and popular culture. 
    Aloe Blacc's 'I Need A Dollar' refers to his “buddy” whiskey, and wine too. 
    And there is of course a long-standing precedent in Christianity: in the eucharist, or communion, followers “eat” the “body” of savior Jesus Christ and “drink” his “blood”.
    Which is pretty freaky when you think about it.
    Continuing this practise of bestowing typically human qualities to objects, more unsophisticated media sources regularly refer to a drug engaging in the act of “killing”, as if the inanimate substance was taking lives of its own volition.
    Users of other drugs such as LSD or cannabis can easily become fixated on both the consumer product itself and additionally experience a realization of the interconnectedness of all things, often interpreted spiritually. 
    Of course this can put one on a collision course with some of the more naked, exploitative aspects of capitalism, particularly in the energy and mining industries which rely on large-scale infrastructure projects which don’t so much ascribe spirit to objects as much as rip them apart.
    In its own way that too is reveling in the implicit energy of things, that being equal to mass times the speed of light squared.
    Technology which has come into being because of advances in science and industrial practises include that on which this piece was written.
    I don’t plan to think too much in my examination of animism, because animists probably don’t.
    I want to feel waves, root my feet in dirt and sleep among stars.
    I’m on an old path it seems. 

    Later in this series
    Given that giving up drugs is not that hard, as usual I will also be undertaking a physical quest. This year it’s the army’s six-week fitness challenge!
    Look out too for some regular mixes. I actually find these hard to get down to without consuming cannabis so my aim is one day a week to have a puff or three on a vaporizer. I guess this is kind of cheating but apparently even non-ironic Christians who abstain from something during Lent get to take a break one day a week.
    Thanks for reading, enjoy your day.
  7. Testing

    Almost time for Giving Up Drugs For Lent 2014, which will start properly on Wednesday. This year - animism!

    Hope your Clean Monday is going well. 

  8. Day 46: Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

    Made a foray into the world of flower arranging today, which is I think a fitting activity for the nearly-40-year-old I am.

    I’ve not consumed any Easter eggs, meat or alcohol.

    The decision was not a conscious one, it’s probably because I’ve been doing other stuff like mooching about, paddling in the harbor and this morning a bit of yoga.

    As my appetite for contact sports has diminished with my advancing years, so has my appreciation of the discipline of yoga increased.

    I like it because it feels good.

    Sure, there are tough bits but there are no crunching noises, there’s no straining against your cardiovascular limits.

    When I was younger I thought yoga was full of crap but I think I was just put off by prejudice and chanting.

    A decade ago, inspired by an entertaining afternoon dancing along to Ministry of Sound’s ‘Call On Me’ jazzercise video, I had a brief period of collecting other exercise vids in the markets in east London.

    I picked up this yoga one containing shots of people in leotards stretching in the desert, which looked like it would be good for a laugh. It was.

    “Now breathe,” said the teacher dude in a nasal American accent. Everybody in the desert breathed. I breathed.

    I felt great afterwards, and the next day, but assumed it was a coincidence.

    I did yoga in India once, on the roof of a guesthouse in Goa. It was super and again I felt great afterwards but failed to make the connection.

    Then about six years ago I did an introductory course of Bikram, or “hot”, yoga, still in east London.

    Ten sessions cost £10 but to take advantage of the offer you had to do the sweaty 90-minute classes on consecutive days.

    Because it was around Christmas and New Year they weren’t open every day so I did it over about two weeks.

    It was a revelation.

    Slow yet intense, afterwards I felt drained but not in a bad way.

    I listened to my body, which told me to stop running without warming up.

    I downloaded the poses from the internet but only really ever did the breathing exercises and the first few standing poses.

    But even that did a lot for me. Pretty much every day since I’ve done the breathing exercises and most days I’ve done half an hour or more.

    If I’ve got a cold it opens up my sinuses, if I’m sore from some other exercise it helps with rehabilitation. If I’m stressed it relaxes me.

    If I’m full of beans I get excited, find a nice little downhill and blast it as fast as possible.

    If I have a puff on my vaporizer first I find I take longer over the poses.

    Sometimes I get this tourniquet-release effect where the blood rushes back to wherever it was and I feel high.

    I’ve tried to use aspects of its philosophies in my life, application of gentle but sustained pressure in particular.

    Bikram was quite expensive so I never went back however I’ve recently invested in 35 classes with MYOGA, a studio in Marion Street in downtown Wellington.

    The teacher is Melissa Billington whom I’ve interviewed for GUDFL.

    Melissa Billington @ Marion St - March 2013

    GUDFL: How long has MYOGA been going?

    Melissa: At this space, about four and a half years. MYOGA - as a particular brand - the same length of time. I am MYOGA and we’ve also had two rounds of apprentices programs, 200 hour teacher training, that is recognized by the yoga alliance so it has all of the different areas that you’re meant to study such as anatomy, physiology, ethics. I’ve had five women graduate from each of those, so there are other teachers that are also MYOGA. I was looking for a brand that wasn’t my name and wasn’t exclusive, that was more inclusive. I like the idea that if people say they’re going to ‘myoga class,’ it’s also the brand within it and there’s that sense of ownership that people bring to the class.

    How would you describe the style of yoga you teach here?

    I usually describe it as a fusion. It depends on who I’m talking to and how much they know about yoga. People know different styles, so I try to relate it to the style they know. It’s accessible because we have lots of levels now, so people can step into it if they’ve never done yoga or if they’ve been injured or spent decades being stiff. Or they can step into something like flow yoga which assumes a greater familiarity with their own body as well as the particulars of MYOGA. The two main styles that make MYOGA - Kundalini and Kripalu - are both noted for being about awareness and Kundalini yoga in particular is about the movement of energy through the body. And Kripalu means ‘being compassionate.’ So MYOGA is about compassion and awareness, which doesn’t mean there’s no rigor in it or no intensity and strength building! A lot of people say to me ‘I can’t do yoga because I can’t touch my toes’ I say ‘you’re not going to get any closer to touching your toes by not doing yoga’ but it’s a balance of strength and flexibility. It really depends on where the person is.

    Why here?

    I didn’t know at the time but I now particularly like the fact that this is the transvestite street and there’s a prostitute [painted] on the building that makes it particularly easy to find. And there’s something about reclaiming the feminine power in that that is important to me. A lot of the people that come to yoga are women, yet the history of yoga is very male-based. It’s only in the past 20-30 years that more and more women have come into the practice and more and more female teachers have emerged, which has changed the face of yoga as well. I spent about a year casually looking and then six months intensively looking for a space and was looking for something that felt yogic, that felt spacious and also nurturing. That had a sense of nature even though it’s in the middle of the city. It took me a while to find that.

    What kind of people come?

    There’s a wide range of people from 18 to 70. In terms of the age it’s quite broad. It tends to be more women. Occasionally the brave man like yourself. I think in New Zealand it’s still a young industry. When I first moved here seven years ago people were still concerned it was a cult so it’s only really been with Bikram and Hot yoga that people’s minds have been changed. I think because they’ve been able to step into it as more of an athletic pursuit then they’re able to move from there into the more spiritual aspects without fear. I find MYOGA students tend to be more mature and open-minded in the sense that they’re more open to the spiritual elements. As much as we do physical practice, I don’t shy away from the spiritual practice so it takes somebody who’s ready for that and also someone who sees the benefit of slowing down and being more precise as well as adding in an element of something bigger than the ego itself.


    So that’s Giving Up Drugs For Lent done for 2013.

    How do I feel? Ok.

    First half of Lent physically I felt pretty great. Lungs good, Achilles a bit sore, slept well. Kinda bored as usual, and felt clumsy and stupid, particularly when doing new things.

    Second half my back went, got some bug, smashed myself up a bit on the hill race. Achilles much better after my doc prescribed me some calf-raises.

    Re: levitation, I didn’t really explore it that much altho I’ve got a bit more of my interview with Melissa to post in which we discuss the subject.

    Re: Hinduism, they’ve some really cool shit going on that warrants further investigation. Next year Sikhism!


    Shantih shantih shantih

  9. Day 45: Bad Friday

    Just went to a Good Friday service with my folks, which was a real downer.

    Main themes were betrayal, injustice, abandonment and of course death.

    Should really be named Bad Friday.

    Wasn’t sure if I was going to make it but was able to arise in time as we finished work before midnight last night.

    We got offered a beer to reward us for the extra effort put in; I accepted.

    The first few swigs tastes good and it was nice to have a more relaxed chat with colleagues but I didn’t really enjoy the effects after that.

    About to do some yoga :)

  10. Day 43: My favorite mug