Holidays and habits

Category: Lifestyle

It doesn’t demand nearly as much control to maintain habits during a normal schedule as during the holidays.

I escaped to the rural Rio de Janeiro with some friends for a Christmas celebration, a couple of hours outside the big city, joined by a swarm of relatives.

Libations flowed in insurmountable quantities. Alcohol, fruit, appetizers, desserts, snacks of all sorts spread out across the spacious pousada.

The festive machine propagated chatter, music, dance, song. Brazilian holidays are hardly famous for melancholia.

Some view the holidays as an excuse to violate whatever habits they normally exercise. But that’s not how we operate here.

Here we don’t prescribe to holidays, seasons, new years resolutions as means to suspend, offset, or postpone our goals or habits. We operate in the now mode, or not at all.

I make occasional concessions, but don’t necessarily align them with holidays or weekends. Rather, concessions occur in light of physical circumstances that make normal habits notably difficult to respect; not when everyone around splurges.

Nonetheless, during Christmas eve, while I avoided alcohol and unpleasant food groups with the standard zeal, I failed to resist the variety of nuts that seemed to pursue me from room to room in cute platters painted of flowers and sunshine. This continued until nearly 21:00, well beyond the normal eating window. Otherwise, sparkling water with lemon became the de facto beverage for most social celebrations.

The official meal would commence around midnight, but I retired well before that. Waking up shortly before 6AM, I felt solid.

Regular habits followed: 20-30 min meditation, a cold shower, exercise, tons of water. The house was in a deep slumber. Late festeiros spread out on sofas and mattresses across the open spaces and little rooms with no doors in this immensely sized house.

I proceeded to the kitchen. Full of unwashed dishes and cutlery, the sent of leftover food impregnated the otherwise nurturing floresta breeze. The slightly intense air notwithstanding, I determined to get some writing done, having procured a few leaflets of paper I found in the pocket.

An hour and a half later, I joined the house owner on a surprisingly brisk walk around the periphery. Initially struggling to keep pace, I soon adapted, aware that some favor the element of active exercise over meditative exploration.

One of the house dogs, a creature fairly soiled in mud and in painful need of a deep soak, faithfully followed course.

Most of the neighborhood lay in complete silence on this illustrious morning of the 25th. Awake were the poultry and the dogs, the latter not as fortunate to enjoy the early morning holiday freedom, well barricaded within their domains, animated at sensing our (or our canine companion’s) presence.

Upon our return an hour and a half later, I felt drained, and yet energized. Fortunately, a collective of guests occupied the table now restocked with fresh libations and coffee.

The coffee I welcomed with greedy enthusiasm. This, in fact, was all I consumed until nearly 14:00, in spite of the endlessly replenishing staples of food and juices, flowing this way and that like unsettled tides, various concerned parties exercising numerous attempts to send them my way to no avail.

Actually, despite all this stimuli and the earlier exercise, I find morning fasts nearly effortless. However, the respective moment having at last arrived, I ate over a continuous period of hours, still respecting the proper constraints.

With the appetite quiet authentic, the ceremony had indeed acquired a sense of a celebration. An intermittent fast yields fantastic dividends.

With a little discipline and self awareness, one need not disregard the element of wellness and habits in midst of holidays.

While you may limit that superficial raw pleasure of a fully uncensored holiday celebration, you gain the spiritual sense of purpose and the satisfaction in the power of self-control, which in themselves render stocks of happiness, only in this way more authentic and lasting.

Furthermore, none of this prevents you from enjoying time with others. All the while, you remain the sharp and clear-headed version of yourself. Remember to drink lots of water.

Reaffirming the ancient teachings of the stoics, you can be one among the crowd, yet not necessarily partake in the ways of the crowd. You can be your faithful self and adhere to own principles. Just be humble.

Questions, comments? Connect.