So how am I getting ready?
I’m not sure what to expect from fatherhood. People fill me with tales of shit stained suits, sleepless nights, nightmare deliveries and the constant stress that you may be doing something wrong, while others simply smile and say things like – you’ll figure it out.
I can only surmise that our new journey will be aboard our own Flying Dutchman and vacillate between becalming and hurricane from moment to moment. All the while recognizing we can’t get off.
So how do I prepare for life aboard a fictional ship of the damned? I suppose the mind and the body need strengthening as much as is possible. Attacking the problem from both ends.
The body will suffer. The sleeplessness that I’m told about will wreak havoc upon my flesh disturbs me a little – and then there’s the aftermath of the birth. Once home and the missus is recovering I am going to be the sole lifter, carrier, and chief baby wrangler. While I’m happy with a bit of physical exercise I need to make sure I stay free of injury. A twist of the back away from resenting every interaction with your new child doesn’t sit well with me – so off to the gym I go.
If you’re approaching 40 and don’t do the gym thing – you’re not alone. It’s big, sweaty and scary – especially if you are in Asia. The delicate spa like appearances of the European or US gyms you’ve been attending is long gone and personal space is a thing of the past. Kneeling to get in your locker and not knowing if it’s someone’s towel draped on your shoulder or something more personal is a regular occurrence. I’m lucky at the moment – I found a western style boxing gym. I have my own workout from a few years ago, I run when I can. So headphones in, ignore the lithe spandex clad yogis, step past the testosterone fueled fighters and just lift.
This helps with the other side of things. Being fit in body helps being fit in mind. One of the first things a psychologist will suggest to improve mood is exercise. I can’t be down. Which is a pressure in itself. That need to make sure you are up and raring to go with all the joy and energy of someone on ecstasy for the first time. I know we all need to be allowed to feel low occasionally – but mitigating things that can make you feel low (eat properly for fucks sake – excess drink and fatty food put you in the hole) and recognizing when you are down and having the tools to deal with it appropriately is the step to take.
So what do I do? I have the whole mindfulness thing to fall back on – but the drone of meditation tapes pisses me off. I can meditate myself – but how do I know I’m doing it right? I decided to go to the source. The whole stoic movement is based on a handful of philosophers who were all about living the moment – not worrying about what you can’t control etc – so as soon as I find one I’m getting the slimmest volume of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations I can find. I may even treat myself to a posh copy.
Look – this is my sort of book – there are a thousand others that could give you the same sort of balanced perspective – maybe a religious book, maybe some poetry – I don’t know – whatever floats your boat. I just know for me, that stoic approach is going to work better than anything else.
I’ll let you know how I get on.