Something that I’ve recently realised is that a little self discipline can go a long, long way.
3 weeks in to my 3rd mid life crisis and I finally managed to instill a small nugget of organisation into my daily life. Forget the 250 Euro bar tab I racked up in 6 days when I got here. Forget going out for 8 Euro omelette breakfasts in the Livikon. Forget taking the bus to get where I wanted to go. No, from now on I was going to be Mr Discipline. A nice breakfast every day that I would cook myself washed down with filter coffee that I would grind and brew myself. No drinking until the evening. A run every day at around 7pm. 15 minutes of Spanish learning via DuoLingo on my phone…then relax a little by writing my blog and having a quiet beer.
I set myself a daily limit of 14 Euros to spend on food, booze and stuff for the flat me and Dad share. Not a lot but it gave me some leeway and more than some poor sods I’ve seen backpacking whose daily allowance is 10 Euros…BETWEEN THEM.
A little discipline would help me avoid the rat turd that is a Plakias hangover. It would also help me to get used to conserving resources. Overall it would teach me to snap out of bad habits learned over decades of perpetuating the cycle of earn, spend, feel guilty, repeat.
I’ve so far lost my prescription sunglasses and one of my favourite rings. The former I have no idea how. The latter through saying cheerfully over dinner one night with some pals, “Hey raki can clean anything!” dropping my silver thumb ring in a shot glass of Plakian Brandy…and then forgetting all about it until the next morning.
So the discipline thing seemed to work. I even tidied up the bedroom I’m sleeping in so all my crap wasn’t scattered over the floor and chairs like a lazy adolescent’s doss pit.
Then yesterday I decided to have a “cheat day” and REALLY fucking regretted it today. I went out at lunchtime with my Dad and instead of having my usual glass of tap water while Dad indulges over a gin and tonic I had a large beer, followed by a couple of shots and then 4 or 5 more large beers.
Problem was it is 32 degrees centigrade here and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I went home at 6pm, promising to be back in an hour and spent a rather wretched evening and early morning sleeping the sleep of the badly dehydrated drunk man.
It’s 8.22pm as I write this and it’s only after a day of taking it easy and the usual evening run that my body has returned to normal. The worst part of my hangovers is that I also get bad anxiety, based on memories and supposed interactions. They latch into my psyche like the fishing hooks I’ve been snarling up for the last couple of days and it takes a lot of patience, rest and glasses of water to fuck them off.
Discipline, I’ve decided, isn’t something that should be reluctantly adopted into my routines. It is more than an imposition of regulations. It’s something that can and does aid a life, particularly one where I have an uncertain future and may spend a long time travelling and living off my savings. Time moves forward and as my age does too, I need some semblance of regulation in my world.
When I was in the police I met an Inspector. His name is Simon Davy and he was someone who blatantly breathed, eat and slept self discipline. He was a Captain in the British Army before he joined the Fuzz and was fast tracked to Inspector rank (US Lieutenant) in 6 years. He was always on the ball, looked totally in control and was, at least to me, the personification of what a disciplined life looked like. When I left the police in acrimony and bitterness in 2008 I wrote a book about my time as a constable and Simon, in all his self confident, disciplined consistency was one of the very few officers that accepted the free copy I offered to former colleagues. He also made no bones about admitting to that to the 4th floor, despite most of his colleagues comically cringing in fear whenever my email landed in their inbox before they then scurried off to the Professional Standards department (Internal Affairs) in a flurry of paranoid self preservation.
Simon was so consistently in control of his life that he simply shrugged off the paranoia and anxiety that the book caused 90% of people who I’d written about in it (the fact that I portrayed him as a hero probably helped). His life was disciplined enough for him to know where the boundaries lay. He was not afraid of the monster under the bed or the ghost behind the curtains because he knew they weren’t there. He hadn’t written the book, nor condoned it. He had simply said an honest “yes’ to the question “Would you like a free signed copy?”
In Asia I have a friend who has two young children to look after. She is a busy mum and doesn’t have heaps of free time. Nevertheless she also does boot camps, runs nearly every day and has a strict nutrition and detox plan for her weekly diet plan. Her fitness levels are beyond most people 10 years younger than she is. She is an inspiration due to her dedication to a life routine that enables her to be fit and healthy. She also clearly loves doing it and has given me several tips on how to to follow a similar system (although I am as yet unable to drink coffee without sugar, some vices are clearly meant to be kept).
Discipline to me was always a lurking teacher. A punisher with a whippy cane, ready to spring out and ruin my easy going life. Now I’ve slowly started to realise that things need a a little preparation from time to time. I’ve tried fishing on several occasions this week and have had to cut the line free from the reel not once but twice due to not understanding the nature of tension/ release. I’ve busted a reel completely due to not knowing what the throttle was and lost two hooks through tying poxy knots that wouldn’t hold once something bigger than a sardine fancied a nibble. Not to mention my bait falling apart as I’d brought canned stuff that had been so marinated that it was designed to be shoved in a human mouth, not pushed onto a hook and hurled violently through the air into the sea. Had I actually taken the time to research the fundamentals of knot tying; the necessity to keep my fucking finger near the line when preparing to cast; or to work out what bait was appropriate, then maybe none of this would have happened.
I’m trying to embrace discipline like it means something.
Maybe it does.