Week 1 of partial lockdown

Moved home a week ago. Don’t want broadband. Using mobile data for a weekly post. Have plenty of gardening and decorating to stay occupied.

Tango is very happy to have a garden. I’m very happy in social isolation except for occasional visit to shop, only when necessary. We have all we need and more. My routine is relax morning and evening, and use afternoons to be active and creative. Don’t miss people. Grateful for the peace and quiet and for physical and emotional wellness.

Reading ‘Hings’ by Chris McQueer. Listening to Radio 3. Watching Scottish and Channel 4 News in evening.

Here’s some photos…

Ground Control, I’m Coming Home

I haven’t written a post in over a week because I lost my routine and, when you don’t work, routine is such a very delicate thing that’s hard to get back.

When working, it’s easy to feel stuck in a routine. When not working, it takes effort to remain in one.

Everyone needs some level of routine but it’s even more important to anyone who’s experienced a mental health disorder. In fact, your life depends on routine if you want to stay out of negative cycles like mania, depression or addiction.

What took me out of my daily routine was organising a house exchange. I don’t mean actually moving house – I mean all of the bureaucracy, communication, visits, meetings and decision-making that’s part of arranging a house swap. Because it’s not just about you and your landlord. It’s about two of you and two landlords. The whole thing has taken two months just to get to the stage of agreeing on a moving date following landlord permission. And on Wednesday, we settled on a date. But now it’s Saturday and I still don’t have my routine back.

Part of the problem is that my routine involves moving at an Eckhart Tolle pace, ie slower than the average hare. And when I get caught up in the speed of other people’s pace, I can’t get back into my routine until I slow back down to tortoise. And slowing down takes more effort than speeding up.

Well it’s Saturday night and I regard Sunday as the start of the week. So tomorrow, I will make a consistent and steady effort to return to my old routine, as though it’s brand new again. Because I’m not even packing for another 5 weeks. So to all the intrusive thoughts about the future, I say, “Is that so? Thank you for sharing.” Every 5 minutes if I have to, until I’m back into my daily routine so much that I can forget that I ever left it.

Focus on the Present Moment

Excerpts from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (161-180) and Stoic philosopher.

“At every moment keep a sturdy mind on the task at hand… doing it with strict and simple dignity, affection, freedom, and justice – giving yourself a break from all other considerations. You can do this if you approach each task as if it is your last, giving up every distraction, emotional subversion of reason, and all drama, vanity, and complaint over your fair share. You can see how mastery over a few things makes it possible to live an abundant and devout life…

Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?…

Don’t let your reflection on the whole sweep of life crush you. Don’t fill your mind with all the bad things that might still happen. Stay focused on the present situation and ask yourself why it’s so unbearable and can’t be survived.”

Two Stoic prompts from Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic Journal

Am I keeping a sturdy mind on the task at hand?

Am I content to be clueless about things that don’t matter?

Port of Leith

We walked to Ocean Terminal and I dropped off Tango at The Dug House, a friendly dog creche. After taking some photos of the port (the Royal Yacht Britannia is the featured photo) I went to see how much it cost for a tour of the yacht. There was no way I was paying £17 just to wander around a boat. So I went off to Marks and Spencer, just for toilet paper and dog food. A half hour later, I emerged with two full bags of shopping. After trudging home through the pouring rain, we enjoyed fish cakes. All photos by Mrs Mac.

Auld Reekie

Before Edinburgh was being lauded as the ‘Athens of the North’, it contended with a less savoury reputation. The Auld Reekie, as Edinburgh is sometimes still affectionately called, means ‘Old Smokey’ in the Scots dialect.

Although the city is now renowned for its architectural splendour and beautiful natural surroundings, things were quite different in the 17th century. The city (now the Old Town) was enclosed by a wall and to the north was the Nor’ Loch (now Princes Street Gardens). The city’s waste and effluence drained into this loch which was also used for dumping dead bodies. Compounding the reeking stench of the loch was the air pollution from the city’s chimneys and coal fires. This combination of stink and fog became the origins of Auld Reekie.

Edinburgh has been my home for the past four years and it’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll be moving away in just over four weeks. Having little time left in the city makes me appreciate it more and I started this blog in homage to Auld Reekie.

When I stepped out with Tango this morning, it was a face-achey 3 degrees centigrade (feels like -1 with the wind). So we’re having a lazy day, staying warm indoors.

The featured photo – showing my view from Calton Hill to the Castle, with snow on the Pentland Hills in the background – was taken this afternoon. The day was so grey that it almost looks black and white. Here are some genuine black and white photos from Auld Reekie’s more recent past.