Letting go is what life is ultimately all about

Mon 10 – Sun 16 Oct 2022

My SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plug-in tells me I have used the phrase ‘letting go’ to theme my blog at least twice before. Apparently, I should theme it with something new every time. But I genuinely think our lives are about letting go and we need to remind ourselves this on a regular basis.

Another crazy week in the unstable UK. The self-created financial crisis leads to the ‘sacking’ of the Chancellor and huge pressure on the Prime Minister to go. The new Chancellor is basically in charge and the new Prime Minister fills that role in name only. Meanwhile, Russia bombs Ukraine indiscriminately while women and young people in Iran try to overthrow their evil religious dictatorship.

It’s easy to get wound up on the bad stuff in life but we also need to master the art of learning to let go.

“Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.”

Bertolt Brecht

Work Life Balance

The importance of non-work

Generally when we talk about ‘work life balance’, we focus on the work element. In terms of how can I use my leisure time to give me the energy and drive to enjoy my work time? But, in so many ways, non-work time is more important in itself. Our working hours should only be a minor part of our time, we have holidays and working rights based on the struggles of others (thankfully we’re not living in China), and no-one lies on their death bed thinking ‘I wish I had spent more time at work’.

If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit

Torremolinos, I will soon be in you

In this vein, I am getting excited about my upcoming holiday. In a couple of weeks I am off to Torremolinos for a break in the winter sun. And catch up with my friends Phyllis, Jamie, David and Gordon. I am planning ahead in terms of what I will take for clothes and books plus thinking about the money I will need and some of the places I might visit. Although I’m very much looking forward just to having a break from work, London, and grey weather.

Holiday cocktail

Work: letting go, a brilliant project, and working mums

Work itself was fine last week though I continue with the countdown to my leaving as I wrote about in my previous blog here. There’s an important process of letting go with me planning what can and can’t be done before I leave and what needs to be handed over to my successor.

One of our pro-bono projects finished this week where we had put a small team of developers into a charity for a few weeks to help them with tech issues. The team were brilliant and the charity’s staff reciprocated giving their time and enthusiasm to the work our devs were doing. Overall, some great stuff achieved and the showcase (the final wrap-up event detailing everything done over the last few weeks) was fantastic.

There is a well-known gender imbalance in the tech sector. My current employer is very aware of this and does a lot to ensure it is a good place to work for women and under-represented gender minorities (WUGM). It was impressive this week that we had an all staff discussion which ended up focusing on the importance of ensuring more WUGM are in senior management roles and having visible ‘working mum’ role models across the company. It is so important that other companies act like this and focus on a healthy culture which leads to profitability.

Culture from the Saatchi Gallery graduate show

Art and Culture

‘Moonage Daydream’

With Dave on Monday afternoon to see this documentary about the life of David Bowie. I continue to genuinely believe that life has been shit since he died in Jan 2016. Crap like Brexit, Trump, Hong Kong, Ukraine but without his cultural genius to give us hope. It’s a great film that lets his music and interviews tell the story. And it reminds you of the sheer variety of artistic stuff he did.

The film is quite long at over two hours but it flies by. And it’s a complete reinforcement of the idea of letting go. Bowie basically said take all the chances you get, don’t hesitate to be different, and live your life as it is the only one you’ve got. He realised whenever he was slipping into populism and took the opportunity to change direction. Was there ever a real Bowie or was he just always a different character? Does it matter?

“When it comes to making a choice, do both”

David Bowie

We saw the film at the new independent cinema in Covent Garden – the Garden Cinema. You can find out more details about it here. Highly recommended. Old fashioned luxury, small cinemas, reasonable prices, an eclectic array of films, and a very nice bar.

Letting Go

Books and Reading

‘Mother’s Boy’ by Patrick Gale

One of my main ways of letting go from everyday life is to loose myself in a good book. Finally finished ‘Great Circle’ last week – an excellent read and you can find out more about it in my previous blog here. ‘Mother’s Boy’ was the other book I have been reading for a good couple of weeks. It’s been my main read in bed. A few pages each night before I go to sleep.

Patrick Gale is one of the best contemporary British gay authors. And I have read many of his books as you can see here. To be honest, I have had problems with his writing which is good but frightfully middle class. Fortunately that bourgeois angle has lessened as his writing has aged.

This book is based on the early life of the Cornish poet Charles Causley – you can read about him here. I had never come across him before but this was good historical fictional biography. There is a tweeness in how the book celebrates pre-war country life without looking at some of the negatives like disease, poverty, and early death. But I warmed to the characters (primarily Charles and his mother) and their adventures particularly with the advent of WWII. Definitely worth a read.

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”

Langston Hughes

‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ by Natasha Pulley

Also finished this book last week. It’s an alternative history / fantasy novel set in late nineteenth century London centring on a mystery of who planted the bomb? There’s a strong Japanese element to the story which was unexpected. As is the gay undertone.

My first experience with this author came with her most recent book ‘The Kingdoms’ – very much in a similar vein to ‘Watchmaker’ which was actually her debut novel. I really enjoyed both books though they are ‘clever’ and it’s a bit easy to get lost in the plot. Fundamentally (I think) it’s about how life would be if there were multiple dimensions that could be easily accessed.

Went to the local library on Thursday in place of the gym – see below. Regular readers will know this is one of my favourite things to do. Just wandering around the bookshelves looking at all the books I wish I had the time to read. Coincidentally came across ‘The Bedlam Stacks’ the follow-up to ‘Watchmaker’ which, obviously, I had to borrow.

Clock face showing time

My new reading books

So the first book is a factual study of AI: ‘Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence will transform everything’ by Martin Ford. This is my bedtime book. Meanwhile on my kindle I am reading an award-winning fantasy / sci-fi novel ‘The Fifth Season’ by N K Jemisin; very good and thankfully no dragons which seem to be the mainstay of most fantasy novels these days.

Health and Efficiency

Gym disaster

The secret of letting go is simply letting go. And there was a great example of this last week with my gym. Going to the gym makes me feel great. And I had a very good session on Monday. But then on Tuesday came disaster. I walked there and found a note on the door saying it was closed from 8am – 4pm for maintenance.

One of the risks of going to the gym at off-peak times is that is when they are most likely to close to do repairs. Before I went again on Thursday, I phoned to check just in case and the maintenance work meant the gym wouldn’t be opening that morning.

So only 1 out of a possible 3 sessions but what was the point in getting upset? There are things in life that are annoying but we can’t do anything about them. More important to let go of the anger and frustration then focus on picking things up again when we can. And, to be honest, I think basically having a week off from the gym did make my knees feel less painful than they have been.

Resting men

70 gym sessions since the start of the year divided by the annual membership = just over £7 per session.

Weight

My intention is that by letting go of tension and stuff that gets me down so I can lose weight. Perhaps my frame of mind for the week gone was heading in the right direction as I managed to lose half a pound. Day by day, week by week but hopefully this good trend will continue.

Weight scales

Family and Friends

Mum – her never ending repair and the mystery chocolate

Spent time with mum during the week and we waited for the person to come and repair her window which can’t open. Guy eventually turned up (he didn’t for the previously arranged time). However, he needs to order a part and once that’s in stock then the Housing Association have to approve the repair. So we are now waiting for the HA to phone which they won’t (they never do) and I will have to chase it up again. Meanwhile mum gets wound up about all of this.

Interestingly Mum got us a bar of mystery chocolate as a treat. It was Cadbury’s so a guarantee that it wouldn’t be totally awful. I’m still not sure what the flavour was. I think it was strawberry and not awful but I didn’t eat too much of it.

A lovely Sunday lunch with friends

Me and Dave went out for lunch on Sunday with our friends Patrick and Frances. We often meet up with both of them but this time we were joined by Deborah, an old friend of Patrick’s former partner. It was the perfect meeting of friends. A mix of old and new acquaintances with lots of lovely life stories and personal experiences talked about – a real pleasure.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Sustainability

You don’t need possessions

The brilliant Bowie film I saw and described earlier contains tons of interviews with the man himself. Interestingly it’s just him and the interviewer talking unlike many other documentaries where there are lots of comments by other people. What he says is so insightful and one of the most memorable sections is his dismissal of the importance of possessions.

I completely agree and there is so much all of us need to do in letting go of the importance of owning stuff. Ultimately we take nothing with us. And our constant consumption is destroying the planet. I love letting go of stuff. There is something so rewarding in sorting through things you own and saying ‘do I really need this, when did I last use it?’ And then selling it secondhand or donating it to the charity shop or giving it away to friends. Don’t seek to accumulate, seek to offload.

Personal Development

Languages and tech

One of the best ways of letting go of the stress and dreariness of life is to learn new skills and have new experiences. Learning some more Spanish every day is really important to me. And, hopefully, when I am semi-retired with more time then I can also try to improve my German.

Really pleased to say that I also did some tech learning last week with a mini course on CD/CI – continuous development / continuous integration. This is the process by which creating and putting code into production (real life) is made much more faster.

inter-connected tech

The Week Ahead

  • Famous last words after last week’s gym debacle but… Should be a nice normal week: 2 busy working days and 3 non-work days with a gym session on each of those 3 days
  • Tying everything up at work as Friday is my final day before my time off and I won’t be back ‘in the office’ until November
  • Will mum’s window repair be completed? I’m not holding my breath
  • May not finish any books but I will enjoy reading them
  • Going to take some books up to the Exchange on Tuesday (if there’s a buyer in the shop) and trade them in

And Finally…

It's a crazy time

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