Today is St Davids Day, the patron saint of my beloved country, my homeland, my hills, and my vales.
Today is the day when, back home, we’d be wearing red to school, singing sosban fach reluctantly, and eating as many Welsh cakes as physically possible.
But I’m not home.
I’m in England, and appallingly, there is not a welsh cake in sight.
Also nobody cares about celebrating today, because it’s the first day of Lent, that Christian tradition that, like every other Christian tradition, is a massive part of our cultural identity, whether you’re religious or not.
There were lots of discussions today in drama about what people were giving up and what was too difficult to give up: alcohol, chocolate, meat, gluten… The list goes on. I explained to people that I wouldn’t be giving anything up, because truth be told, there wasn’t much I could give up: I don’t drink a lot, only very occasionally, and on my current medication it’s advised I don’t drink excessively anyway; chocolate I successfully managed to give up for Lent two years in a row, so I consider that challenge well and truly completed; the only meat I really eat is chicken, because food shopping without meat is significantly cheaper; and gluten is probably something I take in a lot of, but frankly I don’t care enough about it to find the appropriate product replacements (which are likely to be more expensive anyway, thus making cutting meat out of my diet kind of redundant). People started trying to help me come up with things to give up: red bull, procrastination, tumblr… The list went on. But frankly, I don’t feel like I have a strong ‘need’ for any of these things and it wouldn’t feel like much of a challenge to go without them.
The exception to this is sweets, which I do eat too regularly. These were suggested, but I explained my philosophy to my friends:
The way I see it, in order to motivate yourself to work hard and continue to work hard, you need to reward yourself. If I don’t have sweets, then I won’t have any system of reward. You can talk about replacing it all you like, and while I could swap it for fruit, it’s important to have a hedonistic treat now and then. I don’t understand why I should deny myself so long as I’m being sensible.
This opinion is also pretty strongly influenced by my nihilistic streak: if I’m gonna die anyway, preserving peak physicality for a few more years at the expense of never eating any of my favourite foods doesn’t sound like a sensible trade-off to me. My older self will thank me for doing exercise I enjoy, and finding healthy foods I like, not by denying myself any pleasures in an attempt to delay the inevitable that awaits us all.*
Speaking of exercise, I then went on to say that instead of denying myself and having less, I wanted to add something meaningful to my life, somehow. In an ideal world, doing a bit of exercise every day is a great goal I’d love to do for lent, but unfortunately I’ve begun a new course of medication that explicitly suggests a reduction in physical activity.
So, instead, I have a writing challenge: to attempt to write something (and post it here) every single day for the next forty days. Who knows if I’ll be able to stick to it, but after such a prolonged hiatus, I feel that it can only be a positive thing. I’m going to be tagging it ’40 ‘jours’ of jotting’, so follow it if you want to see this venture!
On that note, I will leave you all. Happy Lent-ing everyone!
*Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting everyone does lent for this reason. You do you, and whatever you decide to do over the next forty days you should do for your own happiness and wellbeing. Peace x
PS: In fairness, I could probably do with giving up tumblr. Maybe I’ll try that too.