Music and Mortality #3: COVID-19 Diary + Arthur Sullivan’s Lost Chord

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A series of blog posts that combine my COVID-19 diary with music that faces up to the reality of death (in different ways). 

It’s been just short of three weeks since I decided to move my teams to working at home, a few days ahead of the general Stage 3 Lockdown we’re experiencing in Brisbane. I don’t know how you’re finding lockdown but in some ways, it feels like an extended Saturday. I’m at home, the kids are at home, I’m not wearing shoes, there’s a bit of stuff to be done on the computer and around the house, and if you look out the front window you see the odd neighbour out doing their stuff as well. There might be an apocalypse going on, but the suburbs still say sort of quiet.

Possibly for a lot of us, COVID-19 is something we’re experiencing through the news, which is only becoming more bleak. If it was Italy we were looking at in horror three weeks ago, now it’s New York.

What is surprising is how even in less than a month, the news is losing its shock value. The numbers of dead are, surprisingly quickly, getting to be something that you just accept and move on, without quite the cold grip of fear that it used to have even three weeks ago. Is this what it feels like once a war starts: we just accept that people are going to die and get used to it? I don’t know, but it’s disturbing in many ways. But perhaps the alternative – living in everlasting horror of the situation around the world – is unsustainable for our sanity as well.

While there has been the odd commentator in the media wondering whether this will be the end of religion (I’m pretty sure it’s doing just fine in these times, in case you were worried), what I’ve been most interested in this week is political discourse and the way it has caused problems but possibly what it might look like moving forward.

This has struck me with news from two places: America and Tasmania.

With regards to the American situation, it’s concerning. I have friends in America of various political stripes and I’m quite amazed that, despite the devastation that is happening in New York, there are still cries that lockdowns and stoppages are an outrage. There still seems to be an underlying political lens being used by many people: if you’re in favour of a lockdown and government handouts, you’re a liberal Democrat and if you are worried about the economy you’re a capitalist Republican. (I’m sure there’s more nuance to that, but hey, I live on the other side of the world.) All of which is compounded by a President who seems to be in one camp today and then switches to another the next day.

None of which strikes me as particularly heartening when lives are at stake.

So I’ve felt much more comfortable with my own country’s response (and my own state’s health department has been particularly outstanding in terms of communication to the public). While it may not go far enough for some people, it seems that, on the whole, medical advice is being listened to (even though it must be tricky, because the medical community is divided) and it seems also as if we’re making plans to get to the other side of this.

But the Tasmanian story I wanted to share that particularly caught me by surprise was an article on the ABC news about the premier of Tasmania, Peter Gutwein. The poor bloke only became Premier in January and unless he had some sort of crystal ball, I’m guessing he – like myself – was not thinking that three months later we’d all be in this sort of situation.

Whatever his plans for the year, he seems to have risen to the occasion. You can read the article for yourself, but the part that blew my mind was this:

“I think he’s doing a good job in really difficult circumstances,” Labor leader Rebecca White said.

“He’s demonstrated how much he cares for Tasmania and that he’s not afraid to make big decisions to keep our community safe, and we support him 100 per cent with all those difficult decisions because we know it helps to save lives.”

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor agreed.

“Like many Tasmanians, I have been impressed with Peter Gutwein’s capacity to lead at a really difficult time,” she said.

“He’s making extremely difficult decisions, communicating them clearly and he’s being inclusive of us and Labor, so there’s a sense of shared purpose and really working together for the people of Tasmania, which has got to be a positive.”

This is quite remarkable. One of the things that I have deplored about Australian politics for the last decade is this all-or-nothing approach the parties have to each other. All campaigning is based around the idea that “That guy is a dickhead. Everything he says is rubbish. Vote for me instead.” We seem to have a Parliament that just comes together to hurl insults at whatever the other side has done, regardless of any merit it might have.

So to see the leaders of the two other parties in Tasmania both saying that the guy from The Party We Love To Hate is including them in the decision-making process, consulting them and getting them onside, and they think he’s doing a great job – that is nothing less than miraculous in the Australian context. Maybe that kind of cooperativeness can only come about in a crisis, but it would be nice to see it continue.

***

But enough about politics. Here’s this week’s song about death, in this case “The Lord Chord”.

It’s possible that the song would be nowhere near as memorable to me if it wasn’t for the circumstances under which I heard it, but can’t we say that for all the music that is memorable to us? In April of 2016, my father passed away while we were on a family holiday in London. It was a surreal experience. We were able to finish the trip, but in order to make Dad’s funeral, we had to fly home to Sydney on a Saturday and then travel to Brisbane for his funeral early that week. There was no time to get over jet lag, let alone really process it.

The funeral week passed in a bit of a blur and then I was straight back into work. As anyone who works in the arts in Australia knows, the middle of the year is always the busiest for a marketer because you’re preparing for next year’s season, so it really wasn’t until several months later in September 2016 that I was able to escape with my family for a seaside holiday and finally stopped.

During this holiday, I decided to listen to an album of songs by Harry Secombe, the Welsh belting tenor (mostly only remembered for The Goon Show nowadays and his turn as Mr Bumble on Oliver!). My Mum had a few of his songs on tape when I was a kid, so mostly for nostalgic reasons I started having a listen.

One thing led to another and I stumbled across his rendition of “The Lost Chord” written by Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame). As I said, I had vaguely heard this song in the past but not paid close attention to it until now. But this time around it almost instantly moved me to tears nearly every time I listened to it (and I got quite hooked!). In hindsight, I believe that maybe it was the first time in six months I’d had a proper chance to grieve and this song was tapping into this.

Before you hit play and think, “What is this?”, let me give a quick preamble. It’s a diabolically old-fashioned sort of song. There are plenty of good reasons why nobody has heard of it nowadays. It was based on poem written in 1858 by a woman named Adelaide Anne Procter. The poet describes how she (it’s always a woman in the postcard pictures – see above for an example) was sitting one night at the organ feeling “weary and ill at ease”. As she was playing random tunes, “I struck one chord of music like the sound of a great Amen”.

The poem goes on to describe how this one chord was like the ultimate piece of music. “It quieted pain and sorrow, like love overcoming strife; it seemed the harmonious echo from our discordant life.”

But there’s a sting in the tale – the chord dies away and the poet is never able to find it again. “I have sought, but I seek it vainly, that one lost chord divine.” And so the only hope for the poet is that when she dies, “It may be that death’s bright angel / Will speak in that chord again / It may be that only in Heav’n / I shall hear that grand Amen.”

The poem obviously had some popularity, but those words were destined to become famous when Arthur Sullivan set it to music in 1877. Tragically, he finally hit upon the tune that worked when his brother Fred was dying. He finished it five days before Fred passed away, which just adds an extra layer of poignancy to the whole thing.

In many respects, it’s a cleverly designed song. It rolls along with mostly the same tune for each verse but throws in unexpected surprises. For instance, when the words speak of the chord “like the sound of a great Amen”, the music moves into an ancient type of harmony used in old church music, giving the line an other-wordly spiritual sound. Also, that harmony is never used again in the song, adding to that feeling of “you can hear it once but never again”. When the singer talks about seeking in vain for the lost chord, the music moves into the minor key, creating a sense of anxiety and loss about the whole thing. But it also sets us up for the return to a majestic major key in the huge final lines about “death’s bright angel”.

It went on to become the biggest-selling song (which is in terms of sheet music, no recordings!) in the 1870s and 1880s. Every major singer worth their salt in the first half of the 20th century had a bash at it. Brass bands still seem to like having it in their repertoire.

But, eventually – and this is the irony of the whole thing – like the majestic chord that it describes, the song started to fade out from public consciousness.

Maybe there are just too many points of disconnect between the 1800s and now. After all, who can still play an organ? After so many world wars and no end of strife in mind, do we really believe – even those of us in the arts – that any piece of music can bring world peace? In today’s less religious age, are sentiments of life after death – or even singing about death at all – going to resonate as much? (And because the song is not particularly Christian as such, it hasn’t been passed on from generation to generation in the way that the great hymns have.)

But this song had a real resonance for the 19th century generation that lived before recorded music. Think about it. Any time you heard a great piece of music performed live, there was a tinged edge to it – the more amazing the performance, the less likely you were to ever hear anything like it again. And with no recordings, you could certainly never enjoy that particular moment again.

So there we have it – “The Lost Chord” a song that is almost lost as well. Almost any singer that I can find that has recorded this song died long ago. And I think it’s that irony – that a song that is about the transitory nature of music – is itself falling victim to the transitory nature of music. Maybe one day, barely anybody will remember it.

I don’t know about you, but I think that one of the reasons I value so much the nostalgia of my childhood – the books, movies and music that I loved when I was younger – is because there is a growing realisation that with everything in life, there will always be the last time that you read that book, the last time that you hear that piece of music, the last time you meet that person. So getting to return to something from the past can give me the illusion that I can stop time.

But it is just an illusion. For everything in life, there is a moment where we will seek and seek vainly to be able to enjoy that thing again. At least in this life. But more on the afterlife another day.

For now, “The Lost Chord”. I’ve got a semi-obsession with listening to covers of this song (contact me if you want to hear more!) but I think I’ll leave with you the version that first caught my attention, by the one and only Harry Secombe.

 

 

Music and Mortality #2: COVID-19 Update + Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne Performs Live In Amsterdam

A series of blog posts on music that faces up to the reality of death (in different ways). Plus my latest thoughts on COVID-19.

So another week has gone by, myself and all my work colleagues are working remotely, and we’re all safely at home. I feel already in a week we have entered a new era in the Australian COVID-19 saga. If last week was marked by a general fear and anxiety on everyone’s part (which I was suggesting was part of our collective fear of death), I feel like this week that’s turned into general angst.

We’re safe now. We’re stuck inside, you can’t come near me, and I can’t come near you.  So now we’re just getting irritated. With our situations, with each other, with our politicians. Not everyone, and I wouldn’t want to read my week autobiographically into everyone else’s but, as we sit at the start of a stay-at-home period (not yet a full lockdown in my country) of an indeterminate period, it’s unknown how well we’ll treat each other in coming weeks.

See, we love stories about adverse situations bringing out the best in people. (In fact, I think it’s why everyone has a particular love affair with WWII movies at the moment.) But will we actually see that in ourselves at this point in history? I don’t know, but I’m finding it harder than I thought!

In the meantime, it’s time for another song about death, and this time by singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. I came across this song a few years ago while working through Tom Moon’s 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.

(Two quick tangents about that book: a) In case you’re wondering, I did get all the way through it over several years and managed to listen to probably 95%+ of the material in there, if it wasn’t super-obscure. b) Is COVID-19 going to put a stop to this “Before You Die” sort of subtitle on books? They suddenly doesn’t seem as amusing any more.)

Anyway, back to Jackson Browne. Probably not a guy I would have come across on my own (he’s more of a Baby Boomer specialty) but his songs have a quiet thoughtfulness that is quite distinctive. But the one that has stuck with me for the last few years, possibly because my own father was critically ill in intensive care when I first heard it, is “For A Dancer”.

It is, quite simply, one of the most poignantly and brilliantly written songs about death. It’s metaphorical enough to appeal to those who like poetry and philosophy, but the meaning is simple enough to be grasped by the ordinary person.

If only the first verse and chorus of the song existed, it would still be amazing. Using the metaphor of dance (it was actually written in tribute to a dancer friend of Browne’s who had died), it contains a number of true-to-life reflections that are hard-hitting in their simplicity and truthfulness:

  • The sudden shock of losing someone else: “You never know what will be coming down”. 
  • The way we lose touch with our close friends, somehow assuming we’ll always have an endless amount of time to catch up with them another time: “You were always dancing in and out of view / I must have thought you’d always be around”
  • The feeling of not knowing what is beyond death: “I don’t know what happens when people die / Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try”.
  • Possibly most poignant of all, the loneliness of death: “In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone”

All of these things would be total doozies to contemplate in and of themselves in our day and age. However, after a great violin solo from his collaborator David Lindley, Jackson comes back with the second half of the song, which elevates his musings on death to even greater theological and philosophical heights:

“Keep a fire for the human race
And let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down”

I don’t know that this has ever gone out of fashion – our ability as humans to want to turn to God (or something higher) when we face death and devastation. But there aren’t as many mainstream songs that I can think of that express this so clearly. The sting in the tail is that line about “You never know what will be coming down”. It seems a bit flippant at first, as if Browne is saying “You might as well pray to something. After all, it might do some good.”

But the next lines are the ones that haunt me:

“Perhaps a better world is drawing near
Just as easily, it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found”

Maybe this sentiment was more easy to express for someone living in the 1970s – caught in those tumultuous decades after the West had turned had away from traditional organised religion but still had the beliefs and customs lingering in the air. But it resonated with me when I heard it in the 21st century. It’s the crippling language of doubt.

That’s because I went through a period of doubt of my Christian faith for something like five or six years. And if felt exactly like the lines of those songs, and it wasn’t at all pleasant. Some people never quite understand what this feels like. It wasn’t a feeling of: “Oh, I don’t believe all this is true. I’m going to become an atheist.” Instead, it was just a simple feeling of being unsure. Perhaps there is a better world drawing near, but just as easily (depending on how you looked at it), maybe there is nothing there. And if there was nothing there, then I couldn’t find a great deal of meaning to explain the world either.

A world with many beautiful things, but no ultimate meaning. Could you cope with it?

In the end, Jackson and I probably part ways at this point. For me, I had a dawning realisation that God being there or not was not actually determined by how much I felt he was there, and that was the start of the road back.

But for this song, Jackson embraces the uncertainty and encourages his listeners to “Go out and make a joyful sound” – regardless of whether you are able to believe in something higher or not.

However, in the final analysis, he is stunningly honest about what happens if you choose this path. In today’s day and age, we would probably make the being joyful part almost transcendent. In other words, if you can be happy yourself, make others happy, that’s pretty much as sacred as following a religion. “For a Dancer” is far more down-to-earth in its final lines:

“And somewhere between the time
You arrive and the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know”

It’s certainly a far cry from today’s mantra of finding your highest purpose. But maybe – as is the point with the music I’m writing about in this series of posts – maybe contemplating death changes our thinking about our highest purpose.

Anyway, before you have a listen to the actual song, I just found out that poor old Jackson Browne has actually tested positive to coronavirus. I do hope he gets better soon.

 

Music and Mortality #1: My thoughts on COVID-19 and Bach Cantata BWV8

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Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

It’s been about three years since I posted on this particular blog, but I’ll be honest, COVID-19 has driven me to it. Plus I now have a bit more time on the weekends.

As many of you may know, I work in marketing for an orchestra. In Australia. And so, in less than two weeks, a group of talented musicians, many of them my friends, went from performing for an audience nearly every weekend to now being stuck at home, victims of a ban on public gatherings that started at anything larger than 500 people in one place and very quickly turned into anything greater than 100.

So here I am at home on a Saturday night – and not facing up to the prospect of going out to a concert tonight. (To be fair, there wasn’t one scheduled for this Saturday – it was next weekend. But you get the idea. I’m going to have to keep the moths off my concert-going clothes.)

But what I wanted to drill right down to today, because I can be as relentless about oversharing as I can about pursuing cold shivers – is the fear of death.

This week was exhausting. In fact, I checked Twitter on Friday afternoon and the word “Exhausted” was trending. (Sorry I didn’t screenshot that. You’ll just have to take my word for it.)

There are many reasons for this exhausted feeling (unexpected work, sudden change, trying to work out how to video conference!), but my theory is that the biggest reason for this collective collapse-in-a-heap – even if we’re not saying it out loud – is that my nation has taken a collective adrenaline shot of the fear of death.  Sure, we’re all talking about locking down and working from home to “flatten the curve”. But I think when we read the words “flatten the curve”, we’re not just talking about the idea of slowing down the rate at which we get sick. I think for many of us, what we’re hoping is that we won’t get sick. And we’re hoping that, because many of us aren’t ready to die.

Or maybe it’s just me? Whatever, I’ll ‘fess up.

In my head, up to a couple of weeks ago, my money was on me lasting maybe to my late 60s at least. The idea that this year or the next could be my last – no, that was not featuring in my thinking and planning. And these last two weeks have exposed how deeply I fear that changing. And I say that even as a Christian, someone who feels confident that there is life beyond this one.

There was an interesting blog post by Stephen McAlpine recently, back a few weeks ago when the biggest thing going on in Australia was the lack of toilet paper. I’m truncating his full thoughts, but he made these comments:

There’s a thin veneer of confidence in the Western world that is completely untested by any major traumatic event that sweeps all before it … It is a confidence that has held no weight and has no knowledge of anything that could break it. Yet. …

It’s like those videos of people in turbulence-rocked planes, with oxygen masks and luggage bouncing around, crying and screaming out that they don’t want to die.  And then the plane lands and they don’t die. And they have their holiday in Fiji and their massages and their cocktails on the beach.

But somewhere tucked in the back of their mind is the fact that actually they don’t want to die, but they will someday have to. It just wasn’t today.  And it just wasn’t that way.

This idea that we walk around with a fear of death tucked under a thin veneer of confidence was striking to me and has played on my mind.

But rather than get too philosophical about that (I’ll leave that up to Stephen and others!), it got me thinking about several bits of music I’ve come across over the years that deal with death. Maybe I’m morbid, but if fear of our own mortality is what we’re facing, music can sometimes be a more subtle way of looking it in the eye.

So I was thinking I could do a series of three or four blog posts sharing different music that I’ve come across that has a strikingly open view of death. But the one that I wanted to start with was one I stumbled across several years ago – the opening chorus of Bach’s Cantata BWV8.

A quick bit of background if you’re not aware of Bach’s cantatas. The great composer J.S. Bach used to compose music for the Lutheran church and wrote about 250 short works (about 20-25 minutes long) for orchestra, choir and soloists called cantatas. They would have been performed in the Sunday service and would have been tied to a particular Bible reading or theme for that particular Sunday.

The BWV8 cantata was composed for the 16th Sunday after Trinity on the calendar and it’s the day where, as far as I can tell, the congregation contemplated their mortality.

So this chorus “Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?” literally translates as “Dearest God, when will my death be?” I cannot think of any church I’ve ever been to in my 41 years of church going that ever got as in-your-face about death as Bach does in this opening line of the chorus.

The full lyrics in English are:

Dearest God, when will my death be?
Now my days run ever on,
And the heirs of the old Adam,
In whose number I, too, am,
Have this for their legacy,
That they for a little while,
Poor and wretched, earth inhabit
And then are with earth united.

Here we go – in one chorus, we’re inhabiting the earth poor and wretched for a little bit and then get united with the earth. The next few sections of the cantata expand on this and explicitly and deliberately  work through the fears of death and offer the comfort of Jesus. (You can go read the full lyrics here to see how it plays out.)

But just have a listen to this opening chorus, because even despite the somberness of the sentiment in the words, Bach spins it out with some of the most delicate beauty ever created in music. There are long pauses between each line of singing, with a glorious duet between two oboe d’amores (an older version of our current oboe). Underpinning all that, if you listen closely, you can hear a very insistent rhythm, a slow ticking in the low strings, and a fast furious ticking on the flute. (Almost like one is the minute hand and the other is the second hand on a clock.)

I can’t prove this and maybe a Bach scholar can help me out, but even if it wasn’t done on purpose, the idea that this chorus literally ticks like the clock of our life, while discussing the idea that that clock will stop one day, is just musically spectacular and utterly moving. Somehow, miraculously, Bach has moved the fear of today’s age front and centre and said, “Let’s talk about it.”

 

Old Forgotten Blogs

I have recently been thinking about returning to blogging.

It was something I used to do a lot more often but I kind of stopped doing it a few years ago and haven’t really come back to it much.

So I decided recently that I wanted to start blogging again. But I find this strange sensation that returning to an old blog is somewhat like calling that person you used to be friends with several years ago that you haven’t spoken to in a long while.

Now it’s all awkward. Will they be annoyed if you ring them up? What excuse do you make for the long absence?

Seems to be the same with blogging. Part of it is to do with what stopped me blogging in the first place. Which I’m still not sure about.

Was it just that I ran out of time? Hey, I’ve got three kids. It’s possible.

Did I start to get more precious about what people feel about my opinion? Possible as well.

Is it just a vague notion that nobody reads blogs nowadays?

I’m not sure.

Anyway, I figure that if I’m going to re-open the blog after a while, I can’t just write any old random post. So this one can be the awkward one that breaks the ice.

And then – like that old friend that you finally get around to ringing – maybe I can organise a coffee and catch-up for the next one.

We’ll see.

More Sleep and Financial Incentives

My wife and I were talking about the exercise/nutrition situation in our house, and we decided that we’d split half her piano tuition income into extra of what we call “Fun Money”. For those who are budgeters, you probably know what I’m talking about. After all the income has been allocated out to bills, expenses, groceries, petrol, and whatever else – fun money is the money that’s left that’s yours to spend on whatever you like – books, DVDs, trips to the movies, or (in the case of my wife) coffees from coffee shops.

However, the one thing we’ve never really budgeted is the money from a couple of piano lessons my wife teaches, and so the money usually gets diverted into other extra expenses that come up.

But this time, we decided that we wanted to see if we could both challenge each other to the 200 Sit-Ups challenge (along the lines of the Hundred Pushups I’m already working on) – and if both of us can keep it up, then we get extra “Fun Money”. I’m not sure why, but the idea of an extra 20 bucks to spend in a month is highly, highly motivating. But it now means I need to add sit-ups to the list of exercise … I’m sure it will work.

The other one I need to work on, as well, is the old nemesis of the late bedtime. Late bedtimes are rather insidious. They seem like a good idea at the time, because they contain more fun stuff – extra TV, extra reading, extra chatting with my wife. But then they also lead to a later waking time – and it’s early in the morning when the beneficial (but less fun) activities of exercise and writing get done. (At least for me – I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like doing anything productive after 9pm, so if it doesn’t get done in the morning, it doesn’t get done.)

So I need to work on that as well – though a sneaky part of me just wants to let it ride until daylight saving is over because then my body clock will be perfectly ready for the new 6am… We’ll see.

Day 14 of 90: Improving

Well, last week hasn’t been too bad. Got through all three sessions of push-ups (though still thinking it’s going to be a tall order to try to do more tomorrow morning – but I’ll worry about tomorrow when it comes). Missing the green smoothies, but I’ve noticed that I have less cravings for junk food than I used to.

On the whole, this is not too bad and I’m feeling more confident about future weeks.

Day 10 of 90: Broken Blender

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but we broke the blender. We’d had it for all of two weeks from Bing Lee and the thing broke on us. Very disappointing.So no green smoothies for the moment.

Today’s Australia Day BBQ went quite well, and I found I managed to eat heaps of food without feeling ill afterwards. What did do me in was the pizza that I had at another friend’s house. I don’t know what it is about pizza, but I just felt bloated and lethargic for an hour or so afterwards. I feel more sensitive about these things now – as if I can tell very quickly if I am ingesting lots of toxins. Interesting.

I shall look forward to tomorrow.

Day 9 of 90: Starting to Enjoy Myself

Hi all,

I didn’t get to blog yesterday (Day 8), but I decided on a whim to switch the pushups to Monday, Wednesday and Friday and start again from Week 1 Day 1. And definitely on a lower strand this time, which meant less push-ups per set.

So I tried out the second strand (there’s a lower one again if you really struggle with push-ups) and, while still challenging, it was a heck of a lot easier than what I attempted last week. And to my surprise, when I’d got through it all, I’d actually performed 26 push-ups in under 10 minutes. That, to me, is not too bad. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

I got my walk in today, which was nice. And I’m still avoiding junk food during the week. (Except for the birthday cake on Monday which turned out to be cupcakes instead … they were awesome.)

I’m steeling myself that I’m going to have to be prepared for tomorrow, because it’s Australia Day and we’re invited to a barbecue. I love barbecues but (like most people, I think) I find that I tend to eat way more at a barbecue than I should. And I’m not just worried about that from a health perspective – it’s usually the equivalent of getting a horse tranquiliser and I don’t feel like doing much more than curling up in a ball and sleeping while nursing my stomachache.

Nah, not really my ideal plan for the day. So tomorrow I’ll try to be a bit more restrained. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes.

Day 7 of 90: Getting Ready For Next Week

Hi all,

Sorry, I realise I haven’t posted since Thursday. Here’s what happened. Friday I slept in. I know, it’s slack. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t get out of bed on Friday for some reason, so I only got a very short walk. So it wasn’t quite the week I expected. And Saturday which was meant to be a pushups day, I still decided to let my arms recover a bit longer, plus I was busy finishing off a sermon to deliver on Sunday morning. And Sunday is my day off.

But, looking back, while it’s tempting to look at the things I didn’t do, compared to the previous week, I:

  • Ate no junk food during weekdays (other than office birthday cake), and not nearly as much as normal on the weekend
  • Did more pushups in one hit than I’ve ever done before (albeit with consequences)
  • Went for some walks
  • Walked home from the train station a couple of times.
  • Feel a lot better physically than I did the week before.

That’s not a bad start. Here’s to the second week coming up.

Day 4 of 90: More Pain

I hate to say it – but I did not get any more pushups done today. I was hoping to, but I woke up this morning with quite nasty pain in my upper arms. It seems that I’m still recovering from Tuesday. I might have pushed it worse than I at first thought. So my current plan is to try again next week on a much milder level to start with and see how it goes.

Now to go see if there’s enough ingredients for a green smoothie …