Are We All Living in Denial?

Mon 3 July – Sun 9 July 2023

My previous blog was about how life should be seen as a series of transformations, you can read it here. None of us are the same person we were. And the week gone has shown that this is a world going through transformation as the planet warms. Yet we seem to be in denial about it although things are changing and we will be changed.

A life in denial can often be comforting. Why face up to reality when you can pretend everything will be OK? Especially if we can keep putting off the consequences perhaps even to the point when we think we will never have to face them. And denial features in so many aspects of modern life like in our finances, paid work, relationships, weight, ageing, and so on.

Don’t get me wrong. Life should be about being happy and having fun. I want a world where people can be comfortable in themselves like we saw at Glastonbury and by the people who attended Film and Comic Con near to where I live. People dressing as they want and being happy in themselves. But it’s also about not hurting each other as we are doing with and through the environment.

Sustainability

The planet has never been hotter

It didn’t get as much coverage as it should have done (mass denial or the media’s fault?) but we hit a nightmare high point in the week gone. Monday was the world’s hottest day since records began. But then it was hotter on consecutive days making July 3–6 the hottest four days in 100,000+ years. Read about it here, here, here, and here. We also know that this year’s June has been the UK’s hottest ever June. Think about that – it’s never been hotter.

hot hot hot

Yet this made hardly a ripple in terms of the news headlines nor hitting the public consciousness with more noise about Wimbledon, The Ashes, and a mystery BBC TV presenter. Meanwhile, our useless Prime Minister and the looky-likey Leader of the Opposition are going after climate protesters. And the Head of Shell is saying we have to carry on producing oil and gas. Whilst ‘Just Stop Oil’ is criticised for trying to highlight to people what is happening and make them think about the consequences.

Disaster looms

But what will be the knock-on effects of this ongoing temperature rise? We will see more melting glaciers and rising sea levels. Indeed, sea ice levels off the coast of Antarctica have hit record lows and the temperature of the North Atlantic is rising alarmingly. We will have displaced people across the world leading to more refugees. Whole patterns of food production will be decimated, and more countries will be drawn into conflicts over freshwater availability. Yet we carry on living in denial and pretend nothing is wrong.

Not what you want to hear

Tech for Good / Sustainability

Tech designed to be thrown away

My computer packed up during the week. It’s out of warranty but only 18 months old. Took it into a shop to be repaired but they couldn’t obtain the part needed. So I had to buy a whole new computer – a bigger saga than it sounds as the first one purchased was faulty and had to be returned. Basically we have a system where it is assumed pieces of tech are obsolete and to be thrown away into landfill within a couple of years.

A great example of how we have a tech culture completely built on being disposable and creating waste. Another sign of our denial of the climate disaster that is unfolding. ‘Right to repair’ is a great concept but if parts can’t be obtained and it is made awkward to repair then people won’t. And instead we have to buy new whilst the old is not really recycled. And new means more mining of precious materials like lithium – remember there is definitely no such thing as sustainable mining.

I still believe tech can make our world a better place. But let’s be honest that if the companies who make the hardware don’t make it repairable and we aren’t encouraged to do this then we are screwed.

Death anxiety and climate change

Health and Efficiency

I don’t feel that I live in denial but I do live with an increasing sense of despair. That no-one is listening and no-one is doing anything. In that sense I focus on trying to improve myself without damaging others or the planet.

Gym: 3 good sessions but what comes next?

3 good gym sessions mid-mornings on Mon, Wed, and Fri. Nice and quiet (the joy of working out off-peak) though just as I was leaving on Monday 4 people turned up. That lovely feeling when, purely through luck, you got the timing right. As I have written previously, I am not in denial that I can turn myself into an adonis – I’m too old. But I hope I can keep my body and muscles strong so that I can hopefully avoid poor health.

But I do also need to bear in mind that my exercise routine can’t last forever. I wrote about this in another recent blog here. There is no point in me being in denial and thinking what is now so will it be forever. If I can’t go to the gym, what else can I do to keep fit? Indeed, would another type of exercise such as swimming or cycling be better for me to explore?

70 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £7.10 per session.

range of dumbells

Jog-run: A good solid result

I am basically doing my 5K jog-run every 4 days so some weeks there are two in a week and other weeks it’s just one. Last week it was just Thurs morning. I wasn’t expecting anything major so I focused on doing a chilled run without creating any injuries.

And it was a good one. Without pushing myself I managed a time of just under 33 mins – not my fastest ever but just 15 seconds slower than my best time. Very pleasing that each km stretch built up at a decent pace. There are little niggles across my body (its way of trying to put me off doing exercise) but nothing was aggravated – neither Achilles nor knees nor hip.

animation of a fat man running

Weight: More good news but realism also needed

So another small drop in weight to leave me just over 12 stone and 12 pounds. I definitely feel lighter and healthier. Though I also still feel fat primarily due to the loose skin I am carrying. I am an old man with an old man’s body and I need to stop being in denial about that. Yes, it’s important and good to lose weight but that doesn’t mean I can make the ageing process go backwards; I can only slow it.

Weight scales

Family and Friends

Mum: Getting better after her fall

Good news that mum is recovering from her fall. But I am not in denial about how distressing it was. Indeed, her legs are covered in bruises. And that things like this may well happen again and that she is getting older so needing more physical support. It’s a thing nearly all of us face at some time, looking after our parents as they age.

Phyllis: A fun lunch

A great catch-up lunch with my old mate Philip on Monday. Dave joined us and we went for coffee in Soho before heading to the usual bistro. It is so depressing how all the cheap eat places in the West End have gone.

Phyllis is doing fine and we were three ageing gay men talking mainly about health and parenting issues. Where will we all be in the future? Dave had to go home to do some work but me and Philip had time to go for another coffee. Hilarious that as we left the coffee shop and walked back past the bistro, the owner came rushing out to say one of us had left our wallet behind – it belonged to Phyllis!

Wine

Books and Reading

‘Les Parisiennes. How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s’ by Anne Seba

Finished this book last week and what a treat. Non-fiction but fundamentally a collection of stories about the real lives of women in Paris through the Forties. And during this time, Paris really was a women’s city in that there were some German men (i.e. soldiers) but most French men were sent to work in labour camps in Germany.

Stories of resilience, collaboration, resistance, and horror. But a lot of denial that led to the successful Nazi invasion, blindness to the people removed to concentration camps, then ignoring those repatriated because it didn’t fit the imagery of French resistance. Permeating it all, sexism that belittled what women went through as well as classism and anti-semitism that particularly downplayed the horror of everyday life for ordinary women and the implementation of the Holocaust.

The big question is how would any of us act if we had to live through a situation like this?

Ruins

Personal Development

Still making progress here. One of the definite stable factors in my life at the mo is my daily dose of Duolingo. Every day I make sure I do at least one exercise each in Spanish and German. I am definitely off to Torremolinos at the end of Oct so can practice my Spanish. Not sure when I will next be in our beloved Berlin. Me and Dave have decided not to do a Sept visit.

Berlin

The Week Ahead

  • Probably another week of a world in denial about climate change with life carrying on ‘as normal’. We can make our own little contributions but don’t let us kid ourselves that mass level change is not needed.
  • Hopefully 3 gym sessions and a week with 2 jog-runs – Tues and Sun mornings depending on the weather. But perhaps I should be thinking about alternative forms of exercise.
  • Time with mum though she’s definitely better. Also time with Dave – we’ve been invited to a reception on Wed evening at our favourite charity shop to celebrate them raising over £1m.
  • Should finish my current two reading books: ‘Act of Oblivion’ by Robert Harris and ‘Gay Bar: Why We Went Out’ by Jeremy Atherton Lin. Very different books but both bloody brilliant.
  • Must get more Art and Culture into my life. I keep saying it but it’s true and if I keep it in mind then there’s more chance it will happen.

And Finally…

The Planet on Fire

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