Zen and stretchy pants that are technically pants won’t cure Covid
They will, however, provide you with thrills and affirmation, and ensure you eat more cheese
After managing to avoid it for ages, I finally got Covid. Thank goodness it was of the mild type, but the brain fog is oh so awfully real. I couldn’t concentrate on what I was reading. After I became somewhat more lucid, I realised I had no idea what I had just read.
And it was not difficult reading. The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is their latest soapie thriller. It has a pretty simple premise, but I didn’t understand what was happening. It took me ages to decipher who, what, when and I eventually reread most of it.
It’s pretty solid funfair thrills. Avery is a therapist who loses her professional licence, but it doesn’t stop her practising. Thanks to a recent newspaper article, she has more clients than she can handle — all because of an unorthodox 10-session programme she has developed. Marissa and her husband Matthew are new clients. Wealthy, with marital issues galore, they hire Avery to help them. But her methods are unconventional (she stalks them to see what they are hiding and she thinks she is being stalked as well). Avery is worried that because of a whistle-blowing incident involving a former client, she might be targeted by big pharma. Their lives collide and bad things happen. It is an entertaining read, but nothing really convoluted.
During my mind blur I realised it was not the time to read anything with any sort of plot. I needed something simple and life-affirming because even though the variant I had was mildish, I still retreated into myself. Covid is a narcissistic disease.
So I picked up Don’t Worry — 48 Lessons on Achieving Calm by Shunmyō Masuno. He is the head priest at a 450-year-old Zen Buddhist temple in Japan and wrote the best-selling book The Art of Simple Living.
Don’t Worry is Covid handy (it fits under a pillow and hardly makes a dent, and is not too heavy to hold with weak wrists), with short chapters that contain nuggets of Zen wisdom, such as chapter 17: Make your evenings calm: Late at night is not the time to make big decisions or chapter 30: Change the ‘air’ in your home. This could mean changing your relationship with it to find Zen, as “home refers to the Buddha nature that resides in all of us — it’s where we can be our true selves”. It’s all pretty much standard affirmation stuff, but it’s still good advice that doesn’t need much brain power to take in. It’s divided into five parts and you can dive in anywhere — maybe not into the last chapter though, which is about death.
Also a great one for affirmations is You Need to Hear This by Chronicle Books. Its subheading is 365 Days of Silly, Honest Advice You Need Right Now. I loved this. It was exactly what I needed. Little notes such as: “It’s okay to take a break”; “Doing nothing is something”; and my favourite, “Stretchy pants are technically pants”. Also other bits of advice that hit the right spot: “Say yes to more cheese” and remember, when all I yearned for was fried dough or fried chicken: “You have food at home”.