I get it. I hear you. You just want to pull the covers back over your head. You have no idea what day, week, month it is. Moreover you don’t give a fuck. You want to drink your ass off, stagger around semi-comatose and wear the same pair of food-stained sweat pants all week. I get it because I did the same thing. We were experiencing the shock which actually precedes the five stages of grief identified by the legendary Elizabeth Kubler Ross. We were reeling from the Armageddon-like effect of the world’s greatest super villain, the invisible and silent killer known as Covid-19. We watched in terror as Italy then Spain charted staggering, unfathomable death statistics and we watched helplessly as the elderly and those with underlying health issues inevitably succumbed.
We thought of our own parents and we stayed up at night as our hearts pounded out of our chests in anxiety. We wept uncontrollably as we saw health care workers and first responders answer the call, in many instances sacrificing their own lives for the betterment of others. And we seethed as we saw inadequate, buffoonish leadership at the very highest office of power and we again broke down in tears as we saw great men like New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo or US Navy Captain Scott Crozier rise to the challenge. We saw great leaders like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth say to us the exact words that we needed to hear.
Then we woke up with the realization that this is it, this is the new reality. Are we getting the virus under control? Yes, with varying levels of success depending on where you are in the world. But the only way we are getting through this is by staying the fuck at home. I recently posted an image on Instagram of a WWII solider carrying a donkey up a hill. Why? Because if not, that donkey will wander into a mine field and kill everyone. To those who were having a picnic in London because it was 22 degrees last Monday, or having a pre-Circuit Breaker (just call it a lockdown) party here in Singapore, you are that donkey. You are going to blow us the fuck up. The other thing we need to do to get through this lockdown, which will last longer than you hope, is to make ourselves mentally strong. Like Buddha-under-the-Bodhi-tree, Jesus-in-the-desert kind of strong. And in this process for me time and wristwatches plays an essential role. Because, like all minds, mine longs for structure, it hungers to be used and challenged. It needs to feel essential and useful. So for me the best way to accomplish this is to break my day down into units of time, dedicated to different purposes.
Here’s how it works.
7AM: Wake the fuck up. It doesn’t matter what time you went to sleep, or how many Negronis you drank the night before, crying your ass off to CNN coverage of health care workers coming home. You need to get up, face the day and get shit done.
7-8AM: Ingest the news from varying channels. Honestly I’d rather not do longer than an hour because the macabre state of the world amplified through the reporting of CNN and the BBC is like a black hole and it’s easy to get sucked in and stay glued to the screen in a semi-catatonic trance while mumbling “the horror” like Brando in Apocalypse Now.
8-9:30 AM: Work out. I don’t usually spend one and a half hours in the gym. But since I’m stuck at home, and sitting on my ass a lot, why not? I’m lucky enough to have a spin bike in my living room. So I get on that for 40-60 minutes. Now here’s the secret to cardio. How good you feel afterwards will be a direct inverse relationship to how much pain you experience during. Which means if you want that blissful orgiastic dopamine high that carries you through your day, you’ll need to headbutt your anaerobic threshold square in the face a couple of times. It helps to drink two espressos laced with Irish dairy butter just before and during. If you’re running (since most of us are still permitted outdoors once a day) say 5k I like to do four kilometers at decent consistent speed and then do the last kilometer as a series of 1 minute sprints with 30 seconds recovery.
Throughout this, my go-to watches have been the Steel PSR by Hamilton, which we've recently launched on The Rake.com and a Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake in high impact titanium? Why the latter? Because there is no balance wheel, it’s got a quartz oscillator driven by a mainspring and an automatic rotor. Meaning it should be able to take any shock and recover. Though basically any Rolex, in particular one equipped with either a Parachrome or Syloxi (silicon) hairspring, is similarly tough as nails.