Enjoy the Journey

Mon 29 Aug – Sun 4 Sept 2022

One thing I think I have learnt is that life is a journey. It twists and turns with ups and downs. Sometimes we may think we know where the destination is and where it ends but that might not always be the case. Indeed, the journey is often actually more important than the arrival. And with any journey, you just have to try to make the most of it and enjoy yourself.

Appreciate now

Linked to this, I have also realised that the best of times is now. Basically, we can be hopeful for the future but there will never be some mythical time where everything is fantastic. Often we are living through the best times. And we don’t know those were the good times until they are over. Of course, there are difficulties in all our lives but I constantly look back to times I thought were really hard but realise how easy they were.

Drop ‘if only’

And another thing I have realised on the journey we are all on is that one of the main things that can make us unhappy is ‘if only’. Possibly the two most cruel and useless words in the English language when put together. If only I was richer, thinner, younger, etc. If only I had a better job, a bigger flat, a different partner, etc.

It’s really important to be excited and optimistic about the future. But these two words can frame your mind so that you can’t enjoy yourself nor enjoy the journey. All you are left with is unrealistic dreams of a destination which will never be arrived at and so you are left constantly disappointed.

The journey that was last week

The last bank holiday till Christmas came and went quietly. Still decent weather but we are at the stage where we know colder weather and longer nights are on the way.

I’m feeling better which is good and planning to return to the gym. Lots of learning continues at work and an exciting project may be back into play. Meanwhile, preparation is ongoing for a smooth handover when I go. And I finished reading two fascinating books and saw a nostalgic film.

“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”

Alice Walker

Health and Efficiency

No gym

Carried on taking it easy following my illness diagnosis the week before, read about it in a previous blog here. This has primarily meant a week off the gym, no socialising, and lots of sleep. Result is that I feel good. Sometimes on the journey you need to take it easy and cruise.

But lots of long walks

I always think some exercise is good if you are not feeling 100%. Like getting out in the fresh air for a stroll. Indeed, I am often happiest when I am walking about. Going on a real journey, observing the world around me, and catching up on some reading on my kindle as I am making progress in my walk. Plus taking the odd coffee break.

walking feet setting out on a journey

Weight progress?

Weight may have seen a small decrease to a bit over 14 stone. This is still far more heavier than I should be. But I think I may have lost a couple of pounds. Thing is when you are over-weight, it is quite easy to lose a small amount initially just by cutting back a bit. I haven’t consciously been trying to lose weight but I have had sensible days though at least one blowout day on Friday. But if you can’t go a bit crazy on Friday evening then when can you?

man weighing himself

Friends and Family

The journey to recovery last week meant no socialising. But I did spend time with my partner and mum. They are OK though both inevitably have the ability to do my head in. Good news with our elderly friend who the week before had been rushed into hospital. He is coping well back at home with several new physical products to make his life easier. Dave is keeping in regular contact and making sure he is OK.

Tech for Good / Work Life Balance

Soldiering on and preparing to hand on the baton

Didn’t take any sick time off work – that goes against my protestant work ethic. But it helped that I am working from home and so avoiding commuting as well as being able to take breaks when I need them. Lots of thinking about what needs to happen with me leaving in December. How my work will be covered and if there will be a replacement for me.

Learning from the product journey

I have written before how, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, we need to stop thinking about projects and instead think of products. That we are creating and maintaining products that people want and which will develop organically over time. Linked to this, there is a product journey.

And last week something did not go as planned. Product journeys are not just about creating a product but also learning. So that when things don’t go as anticipated then we can make sure that doesn’t happen again. Never be afraid to learn.

Books and Reading

‘Wildthyme on Top: An Iris Wildthyme Short-story Anthology’ edited by Paul Magrs

The first of two books finished last week. A delightful collection of short stories edited by the ever brilliant Paul Magrs. Iris Wildthyme is part of the Dr Who universe. She is a comical space and time traveller, having a party while travelling the dimensions and enjoying herself with her gay sidekick (what a wonderful life). Tongue in cheek sci-fi but thoroughly enjoyable.

A wonderful collection of stories by a range of new and experienced Dr Who writers. Iris meets Medea in one story and in another gets caught up in a Pride and Prejudice type tale. One of my favourites is the really crazy fantasy story where she joins a delegation from the court of Queen Elizabeth I who travel to meet the inhabitants of the Moon to negotiate a co-operation treaty.

‘Consequences are the bits you don’t get away with’

Iris Wildthyme

‘Klara and the Sun’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

The second book finished last week. A much acclaimed futurist novel by a much respected writer. According to the list of books I have read (check it out here), I have read another one of his books – ‘Never Let Me Go’. However, I must admit shamefully I can remember nothing about it.

‘Klara’ is a thoughtful journey through the life of an Artificial Intelligence. I think Ishiguro has written on this theme before. And the story also features children whose intelligence has been enhanced; another theme I think he has written about elsewhere.

What is great about this book is the way it is sci-fi but low key without everything being explained. These AIs and children exist but how this has come about is not explained and doesn’t need to be. We simply fit into their lives and wonder where the story will lead us. At the same time, there is a brilliant analysis of how an AI might view the world and think; often not being as logical as we would expect such as their belief in the power of the sun.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Art and Culture

I would so much like to spend more of my life journey immersed in this. But it is not to be at the moment though hopefully that will improve in the future. But I did manage to catch up on one film I have never seen before and always wanted to.

‘Westler’

A 1980s film about a gay man from West Berlin who falls in love with another one who lives in East Berlin. There follows distance romance, controlled visits, and the attempt to leave. I’m not sure it would have been so easy to travel into East Berlin regularly and the Stasi are conspicuous by their absence. It all seems so dated now and I’m not a great fan of lounging in nostalgia. But still a fascinating if dated recording about a world totally gone now (thank God).

East German kitsch abounds and it is very reminiscent of eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, I travelled to East Germany and Czechoslovakia just after the Communists fell. But fundamentally this is the usual story of two young people falling in love and trying to build a life together. A fun film but I’ve finally seen it now and I don’t need to see it again.

Berlin

Personal Development

This is definitely a journey. Generally I enjoy my daily Duolingo language lessons in Spanish but I have to push myself sometimes. However, I can feel that very slowly I am making progress. Yep there is not the linear progress that would be ideally desirable. But slowly, bit by bit I feel like I am moving forwards and building great foundations that one day can support a much more impressive structure.

The Week Ahead

  • The journey continues. Two working days which will be very busy with lots happening including a speaker on Wednesday from the innovative domestic abuse charity Chayn.
  • And a return to the gym. Might only be two times rather than three plus less intense sessions than before but we shall see. Hopefully reinforced by lots of walking.
  • Carry on trying to keep my eating under control
  • Reading a couple of good books. My ‘real’ one is the biography of a recovering drug addict: ‘Cars, stars, and crystal meth’. Whilst I’m also reading ‘Temeraire’ on my kindle as I journey about. A fun bit of fantasy / alternative history / speculative fiction about dragons.
  • Excited to be part of a video panel on Monday for staff at Volunteering Matters. I’m talking with other speakers about our lives as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Me and Dave are off to a fancy dress party in a fortnight’s time so we need to go and decide which costumes to hire

And Finally…

Steve Jobs quotation

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