How can we be optimistic about the future?

Mon 13 – Sun 19 Dec 2021

It is definitely related to the time of year but I am struggling to be optimistic at the moment. I suppose it’s linked to the feeling of being in and out of control that I expressed in my previous blog you can read here.

It’s difficult to be optimistic at the moment

We hit the shortest day next week (thank God) and Christmas is within spitting distance. But the days are grey, dark and cold. The UK is progressing to being a ‘failed state’ in the way that it and places like Italy were in the 1970s (dodgy economy and politicians, revolving Prime Ministers, corruption, but also creative culture feeding off the chaos). And the pandemic swirls around with Omicron minimising social contact.

Whether to do it?

Day by day, week by week, month by month

Me and Dave met with our old friends David and Gordon last week which was great – it was our only real social event. And our conversation kept drifting back how hard it is to be optimistic about the future. And that life at the moment must be lived totally on a basis of day by day, week by week, month by month. Have we known a time like this in our lives? And everything can be traced back to the wretched Brexit referendum and Trump’s victory – hatred and anti-science given legitimacy.

Reasons to be cheerful

I am naturally a pessimist which is linked to my ongoing battle with depression. Pessimism and depression feed off each other in the pointless way that a dog chases its tail because it’s in its nature and it always has.

But there are some things to be optimistic about. The pandemic situation is better than it was this time last year in that we have vaccines and new meds. The North Shropshire by-election was a good result. Corruption and double standards in government and the civil service are being called out. And Lord Frost joins the other rats leaving the sinking ship.

Stunning half naked man - how could you not smile?

Look to the future

On a personal level, it was another busy and intense week. But I try to keep on top of things, take the negative out of my life, and look to the future. The latter gives me some reason to optimistic; you have to be for what is to come or you might as well just give up. I might not believe it 100% but I have to tell myself things will be better this time next year. They will definitely be different and, hopefully, that means better – however that is defined.

Health and Efficiency

Weight

This is the big area in my life that really pushes my attempts to be optimistic. I failed to make any weight loss last week and I can’t see it coming the near future unless I fall seriously ill. But I also have to stay optimistic in this area. I want to live with the hope that I can still lose weight. This will enable my knees to hurt less and it can be incorporated with going back to the gym, swimming, and jog-runs. I have to live in hope.

My HIV clinic continues to disappoint

Annual check in with my HIV consultant last Wed via video and the same disaster as 6 months ago. Left hanging in the video waiting room for 30 mins and I had to phone them to say I was there. Then turned out I wasn’t booked into see my doctor despite the 3 text reminders I had beforehand. The NHS at its worse and can’t be optimistic that it will get better with the Covid pressure. Also reflects the way HIV services generally have deteriorated as it moves from being a ‘major illness’ to just a chronic condition.

Other health issues

Separate to my HIV appointment debacle, I had another trip to the hospital on Tues morning. Then in the afternoon this was followed by another trip to the dentist for the insertion of my permanent crown. Went as OK as these things do apart from the dentist initially trying to get the temporary cap off without an anaesthetic which was not pleasant. Apparently, sometimes they do just slip off.

Exercise

Some walking, Tues in particular saw me walking across various parts of central and west London. And on Thurs I had my gym physio session to boost my leg muscles and support my dodgy knee. If I am optimistic on something then it must be that I will get back to regular gym sessions in the future. Totally dependent on Omicron and busyness with work and mum. Though I realise my knees are never going to be pain free. A definite about getting older is that things fall apart, don’t really heal, and ultimately nothing is ever as good as it was.

Tech for Good

Work

A busy week and I can’t be optimistic that it will be less frenetic in 2022. Back to back zooms and tons of emails. Though I did take some time out to get my inbox back to under 100. Plus I got one big contract sorted and signed with another one moving forward.

It is lucky I enjoy my work and have such great colleagues. There are many who have things far worse. But it is also about the domination of my time that work takes. And I am pleased to say that I am looking to negotiate reduced working time from the middle of next year. That must make me optimistic that I can get a gym routine going by the middle of 2022.

I love tech even if I don’t always get it. The latter is reinforced by working with so many tech experts at Thoughtworks. I know tech has changed our world and may be our only help to avoid a total climate disaster. But tech is never neutral and can be used for good or bad as shown by last week’s security vulnerability crisis linked to Log4j.

Tech for Good

My mini digital detox

I don’t believe in ‘digital detox’ in the sense of taking tech totally out of your life. But I did do a bit of a mini-detox last week which gave me some grounds to be optimistic about my ability to control things. Basically I deleted some apps from my phone that I spent a lot of time on but that didn’t do anything to improve my life. I am sure we all have apps like that and it was difficult but it felt good, like dealing with any addiction.

Personal Development

Side effect of deleting certain wasteful apps was that I did feel like I had more spare time. And that enabled me to put focus on using more useful and healthy apps such as those around personal development. Didn’t do any coding training. But I did definitely spend more time on Duolingo. All about trying to improve my Spanish. Hopefully with more time I can go back to learning and improving other languages.

Books and Reading

‘The Evening of the World’ by Allan Massie

As planned in my previous blog, I did finish one of the books I had on the go. This was a fun piece of fantasy historical fiction. It pretends to be a renaissance novel written by a monk for a prince to read. The setting is the end of the Roman Empire and it is full of links to medieval and renaissance politics for the instruction of the prince. But it’s also almost mythological in the way the main characters journey around Europe. A bit silly but fun.

‘Light Perpetual’ by Francis Spufford

Meanwhile, also started and finished this book. It’s a wonderful ‘what if’ book about the lives of 5 children if they hadn’t been killed by a bomb in WWII. Quite philosophical in that it’s the lives of the 5 people looked at across their whole lives. Did remind me a wee bit of the TV classic ‘Our Friends in the North’ but set in south London. It is an optimistic view of life in that the book is saying life is all about chance and we have to make the best of whatever hand we are dealt.

sunny sky with bits of cloud

My love of reading and my other books on the go

Reading makes me optimistic generally in that books can inspire and give hope. There is nothing better than finishing a great book and feeling that you’ve experienced something amazing. And then going back to think about it from time to time. I can’t imagine not being able to read and you just have to think of the constant ability of books to challenge and make people think. That’s the reason why authoritarian regimes ban books.

Still reading 2 other books: the collection of Chinese sci-fi short stories and a non-fiction book about post-Liberation Paris.

Family and Friends

Mum and Dave

Time spent with mum and Dave. I was with the former after my horrible day on Tuesday when I felt rough following my time at the hospital and the anaesthetic at the dentist. Paracetamol and off to bed early that night. Mum is fine though it’s about trying to ensure no-one catches Covid before Christmas. Dave remains generally fine though equally worried about the Christmas arrangements for the mums being ruined by someone falling ill.

David and Gordon

To avoid Omicron infection, I am curtailing my social activities. Bad for the economy but vital if we are to have a decent Christmas and avoid a complete new year lockdown. In normal times, I would be out socialising in the run-up to Christmas – I think it’s a great time for guilt-free fun. But these aren’t normal times so only one social event last week when me and Dave met our old friends David and Gordon for drinks and dinner at the Union Jack Club.

Great to see them and have a lovely chilled catch-up evening. Drinks first then a meal in the restaurant followed by more drinks in the bar. One of those easy, lazy evenings you can have when you are with good friends at this time of year. UJC itself was busy but not as much as would be expected in normal times. Went back to Dave’s afterwards to stay over there the night though didn’t arrive there until 11.30 which is very late now for me on a school night.

Wine

Other aspects of life

  • Sustainability An areas I am definitely not optimistic about. My suspicion is that the damage is done. Indeed it is all about damage limitation rather than ensuring climate change doesn’t happen. All the usual stuff done as my contribution to tackling the climate crisis. Actually part of me hopes that the reduced economic activity of the pandemic will help the environment. Indeed, a small part of me is optimistic that patterns of living will change permanently for the good with the ongoing pandemic.
  • Art and culture Another week of not much being achieved here beyond just watching stuff on TV and reading books.I have got to be optimistic that as I have more time in the future so I will have more ability to go to galleries and museums in particular but also concerts and shows.

The Week Ahead

  • It’s Christmas! 3 days at work and stuff to do. But I also need to finish off my cards and present shopping.
  • Got to stay optimistic and hope that me and my loved ones don’t get struck down by Omicron. So ongoing reduced social activities. Carol concert on Wed evening but really not sure if it’s a good idea to attend – perhaps watch online?
  • So long as things go as planned, Dave’s mum will come to London. Me and Dave are taking the mums out for lunch on Christmas Eve. Then it’s me, Dave, and his mum for Christmas lunch at the UJC whilst my mum goes over to my brother’s partner’s place.
  • Health stuff is still important next week with INR (blood clotting) test again and bloods at the hospital on Tuesday – another fun day!
  • Aim is to finish the collection of Chinese sci-fi short stories and start a couple of new books

And Finally…

There is always light

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