Monday, 5 October 2020

Some people round a bend and see only more road ahead

Another important element was the discipline my saving method imposed on me. At least until my mid-teens, when I was done with the lute idea and blew the money on U2 albums, the lute fund was to my mind sacrosanct. Raiding it to buy something else was unthinkable - just as the Parish Council dipping into the Organ Restoration Fund to pay for a Christmas party would be in other circumstances. The weakness of my lute fund, though, was that the target was unachievable. If you recall, I set myself the task of saving L1,400, which realistically I was never going to reach. When I returned my bear canister to the parks office at the end of the hike I read a John Muir line on a writing journal for sale in the foyer: Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; The next day I got in my hire car and headed back to LA. I lined up a few podcasts for the trip. In one of the podcasts I listened to Krista Tippett interview Teju Cole who took James Baldwin's famous `woke' quote (`To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time') and broadened it to apply to contemporary life. I know this rage. I've brought it up in a few contexts throughout this journey. It's the rage of not comprehending how people could not vote for leaders who prioritise the collective good. It's the rage of watching governments approve coal mines and abandon the needs of First Nations peoples, justifying it all in rigid and deflating `economic growth'-speak. It's the rage of being split apart when what we want is to be joined back together. Sedentary Behavior A study on young and healthy men and women has shown that if you spend too long sitting down and you are eating more calories than you need, insulin is 39 percent less able to do its job, whereas if you are eating no more calories than you need, it is only 19 percent less able. Your body's resistance to insulin rises by 19 percent simply on account of not moving, even if you are burning all the energy that you are taking in. Physical activity on its own reduces the risk of insulin resistance regardless of diet. If your diet is also poor, then sedentary behavior acts in synergy with it to cause insulin resistance.

The less active and fit you are, the more benefits you will reap from moving around. The less active and fit you are, the more benefits you will reap from moving around. Just one day spent sitting for over sixteen hours can make the entire body insulin resistant, when compared to a day spent sitting for only six hours, even in people who are healthy and young. Going for a walk for fifteen to forty minutes immediately after a meal, instead of sitting down, significantly improves insulin dynamics. Walking for five minutes or doing simple resistance exercises such as squats and calf raises for three minutes every half hour also improves glucose and insulin levels in the setting of insulin resistance. We all have our little traditions. Some parents have shrines and fancy setups, which is all fine and good, but we prefer keeping a little night-light aimed softly on our ceiling, which shines down on Eric's picture. Part of my tradition is making sure that this light stays on, as it's become a physical manifestation of the light that shines in my heart. Everyone responds differently. For me, starting EricsHouse was my only way forward. It just came to me one day. I remember sitting in my office, stuck in a job I didn't care about anymore, going gray, and I just sat up and announced this to myself. I'm going to start a nonprofit and call it EricsHouse. Up until then, I had spent a lot of time going through phone records, trying to figure out what had happened. I had talked to Eric at 10:30 that night, and we made plans to have breakfast the next morning. So another crucial factor in the Kenyan saving plan was probably that the villagers taking part had a good chance of saving enough to buy the bed nets with the saving plan to help them. The lesson we can all draw if we find saving difficult, or think we simply can't afford to put any money aside, is to start small and stay simple. As our financial system becomes ever more complex and sophisticated, the danger is that people who aren't especially numerate, and can't afford financial advisors and all the rest of it, reject the thought of saving even a small amount. This is where `Christmas club' schemes and terramundi jars have their place. They won't transform people's finances, but they do help people who may have turned away from saving to learn again the disciplines and, yes, the joys of saving.

THE JOY OF SPENDING Why, if you want the good life, you should spend your money on experiences not things (while allowing yourself a bit of retail therapy), why buying high-quality prosciutto that you don't need might not be extravagant and why it's better not to know your hourly rate. OF COURSE, THERE'S more to money than saving. Sometimes you want to spend, and not just on life's necessities. We've seen that it's good to save and it's good to give, but I want to reassure you that it's also good to spend. Cole went on to say that to be conscious, even at a superficial Instagram meme level (`hashtag woke'), is `also to be in a state of quiet sorrow and knowing there are things we cannot solve'. But, he adds, this sorrow, this uncertainty, this confusion could be the `anteroom' to the solution. Oh yes, the anteroom. A place, a point, we pass through before arriving at . We are survivors of immeasurable events, Flung upon some reach of land, Small wet miracles without instructions, Only the imperative of change. So wrote Rebecca Elson, astronomer and poet, as she faced her death at the age of thirty-nine from cancer. I've landed here after a series of the most monumental rabbit hole dives, painful explorations and rolling, wild hikes of my life with a deep, aching understanding that we are all in fact more connected than we realise. We all feel stuck. And we are all struggling to cope. We have been split apart and it's time we're split back together again. One study has shown it may be better for your insulin dynamics to slot in several short bouts of walking at a moderate speed rather than to sit all day and then spend thirty minutes at the gym. If you have insulin resistance, it may be better to exercise a short while after eating something rather than before you eat. Exercising while you are in a fasted state, before a meal, may impair glucose control after the meal, especially if the exercise is of a high intensity. A study on sedentary men who had not been diagnosed with insulin resistance found that exercising intensely at all-out effort for ten minutes, three times a week for three months resulted in similar improvements to insulin resistance as exercising at 70 percent of maximal effort for fifty minutes, three times a week for three months. The ten-minute protocol consisted of three twenty-second intense cycle sprints interspersed with two minutes of very light cycling, with two minutes spent warming up and three minutes spent cooling down.

Take a walk after every meal, for at least fifteen minutes. If you have a sedentary job, stand up and walk around your office every thirty minutes. Alternate walking around with doing a few squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, squat thrusts, or jogging in place for three minutes. Minimize your seated time. Schedule walking meetings and phone calls. He died at 1:30 in the morning. What happened between 10:30 and 1:30 that caused him to do that? He had prescriptions for more than 500 Oxycontins. That buys a lot of heroin. Eric didn't look like a heroin addict or act like one, but something happened that night between 10:30 and 1:30 that made him decide to take his life. I found him the next morning. He wasn't answering his phone, so I got angry and drove over and let myself into his apartment. I discovered what I was so afraid of, what I had been fearing for a long time, what I still struggle to speak of, even now, as words can only state the facts of what I knew, that my son Eric was dead. I started searching for answers. What the hell happened? Though having said that, it depends what you spend your money on. The wealth of research in this area (another intended pun) points to a number of different ways in which a person might spend to increase happiness. One tip is to buy experiences instead of material goods. For instance, those who are lucky enough to have a lot of money would be much better advised to spend it on a cruise to the Antarctic or a gorilla-watching trip in Rwanda (both expensive trips - I know; I've looked them up and can't possibly afford either of them) than buying yet more fancy clothes or furniture.

The experience will live with them and give them more pleasure. If you think about it, that is exactly what some of the super-rich do. Richard Branson splurges on attempts at hot-air ballooning records or on grand projects like building space rockets. Even Donald Trump presumably entered the race for president of the United States not because he initially expected to win, but for the fun of the ride. Regardless of the annoyance he might have induced in other people, for him as an individual, it could be argued it was a good use of his billions. We are ready. I've come to understand that at our human core, we are not so different. Let's take Trump. Few humans have polarised the planet more. But Trump's popularity stemmed from the fact that he has spent his presidency touring and doing in-person gatherings around the country. He tapped into a craving for connection and belonging in a highly fractured culture. Yes, he did it by fostering an `us v them' tribalism, appealing to our small selfish selves, waging a war on immigrants, media, liberals and anyone who questioned him. We can point fingers and be baffled. But the more nuanced interpretation we can choose is that such is our moral aloneness, we'll take the fear-based `lite' version of connection if we have to. We've all contributed to where we are at. Walk instead of using public transportation. If you are sedentary for a defined period of time, never eat more calories than your body needs around that time period. Even if you manage to incorporate some walking into your day, squeeze in some dedicated exercise time. Visceral Fat Visceral fat and insulin resistance are inextricably linked.

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