Life is about transformation

Mon 26 June – Sun 2 July 2023

There’s a lot spoken and written in management speak about ‘transformation’. In particular, much about digital transformation. The idea that new tech changes the whole nature of the way a business is organised and delivers services. However, ‘transformation’ is bandied about so much that we really are losing the meaning of the word. Like it’s almost interchangeable with the word ‘change’. But I think its meaning is more dramatic than that.

Transformation is about more than just change

If something is transformed then it is totally different to what it was before. But transformation isn’t just about big, massive events; smaller things and situations can also be transformed and transformational. And such transformations can bring both pain and pleasure. However, in line with what I wrote in a previous blog (read it here), new doesn’t mean to junk the past and destroy it. Rather we should preserve and memorise it to create a better future.

I’m currently experiencing a transformation in my life with no work but more exercise and weight loss. But there are also painful transformations. I would argue Brexit, the Covid pandemic, and the Ukrainian invasion have all transformed the world and not for the better. Though out of every evil there is always some good that comes. Similarly I can see transformation in the health of my parents and this worries me as their lives are altered by what their bodies and minds won’t let them do anymore.

Reflecting and chilling in the quiet

Books and Reading

A week where a couple of very interesting and thought-provoking books were completed especially around this theme of transformation.

‘Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne’ by Katherine Rundell

Regular blog readers will know that despite being a prodigious reader, one form of literature I really don’t get is poetry. So it is strange that I read this award-winning biography of the famous English poet John Donne. However, he really is a fascinating character and more than just a poet though that is the main legacy we have from him. Though there are also his sermons as he ended up as a priest.

It’s a fascinating biog that demonstrates the transformations within his life from a number of different angles both personal and professional. Indeed, perhaps we should view all our lives as a series of transformations; who can say they are the same person that they were? Donne really was a fascinating person and you can read about his life in a shortened form here.

‘I am not your Eve’ by Devika Ponnambalam

A slightly left of field read for me. I saw it at my local library and decided to give it a go. It is a novel about Teha’amana – the young girl seduced in Tahiti by the famous artist Paul Gauguin. But it is a novel with multiple perspectives. Sometimes we are hearing from Teha’amana, sometimes Gauguin’s young daughter, other times Gauguin himself, then Teha’amana’s family. And all of this interspersed with Tahitian folklore.

Not an easy read especially when you find out more about Gauguin himself. A brilliant artist but also a child rapist who was having sex with young girls and passing on his syphilis. You can find out details about his much travelled and unconventional life here including the unpleasant side.

This is also a novel about the discovery of the Pacific Islands’ unique cultures. A culture clash that could be considered akin to us meeting aliens. Sadly the result of this was the crude and cruel transformation of Tahitian culture and society particularly by missionaries. But then other Europeans tried to ideologically recreate these cultures based on their own ideas of ‘noble savages’. Again this links into my recent thoughts about how we too easily discard the past and try to reinvent it.

Wall slogan

My current 2 reading books

Both are about big periods of transformation and how people dealt with them.

  • ‘Les Parisiennes’ by Anne Sebba. A non-fiction study of the lives of women in Paris during the 1940s. Dealing with occupation and liberation. A period of collaboration, resistance, starvation, and retribution.
  • ‘Act of Oblivion’ by Robert Harris. One of my favourite current novelists and it’s fiction based on fact. The Restoration brings complete change in England and two men have to go on the run in America to avoid being cruelly executed for signing the execution warrant of Charles I.
Ypres after the first bombardment

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run: New best time confirmed

Last week was one of those where it fell that I did two 5K jog-runs, on Tuesday and Sunday mornings. The first one really was a transformation. I did my fastest 5K, clocking in at 32 mins and 45 seconds. And, perhaps inevitably, this included my fastest km coming at around 6 mins and 15 seconds. The best thing was that I could feel I was pushing myself but it wasn’t too much. Such a good feeling after recently having done some poorer times.

Then the jog-run on Sunday produced exactly the same time which reinforced that my ‘best ever time’ was not a fluke. This run felt good and the times per km were more controlled building up faster each km. However, I am left with a dodgy ache in my right hip. Hopefully it will pass but always useful for a reminder that easy progress isn’t inevitable.

Jog-run

Gym: Progress but with realism

Managed to get in my 3 normal gym sessions last week and even thought about doing an extra one but decided to give myself a day off instead (me and Dave met-up with our friend Patrick). All great sessions and focused the Friday one on legs. Pretty sure I can’t expect to transform my body at my age. Realistically now it’s simply about strengthening muscles in order to promote better health.

67 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £7.40 per session.

tom of finland

Weight: Records broken

There has been a transformation in my life in that I have got my weight to under 13 stone. I’ve wanted to do that for ages and I am delighted that I’ve lost nearly a stone and a half in six months. This would appear to be due to increased exercise and changes in my eating patterns. And the knock-on effect is that I feel healthier and I am back to doing 5K jog-runs albeit with times that were not as good as I used to do.

Feel free to check out my weight loss and jog-run times here.

INR: A welcome break

More good news during the week when my INR blood test showed that my blood is at a good level. Not being prone to clotting nor being too thin so I am likely to suffer internal bleeding. And the better news is that because I am having a period of stability so I don’t need to go back to be tested for another 6 weeks – hooray!

Family and Friends

Mum has a fall

Bad news that on Monday mum had a fall when I wasn’t with her. She went out to the shops on her own and fell over. Worse that it was somewhere with no-one else around and so she had to get herself up. She hurt her ankle as well as banging her knee and head. She was very shaken up and and tearful when I saw her later. So I’ve been spending a far amount of time supporting mum last week.

These are the sort of things that are going to be a transformation of her and my life. If mum’s falls get more frequent then we will come to a time when she will always have to be accompanied and so lose her independence completely. And that would probably mean me becoming her full-time carer which is not something I want to do but it would have to be my duty.

I wish I could do more to help others

I really, really wish I could improve mum’s life and get her back to good health. Indeed, I would love to be able to transform for the better not only her life but the lives of my other family members, my partner, and my friends. If I had a fortune then that is what I would do with it – give it away to change people’s lives. What is the point in being rich unless you make life better for others?

Sustainability

My despair

This is an area where we drastically need transformation. The climate change threat grows and grows to weigh on us like a nightmare. But a nightmare so many people are in denial about. Still doing my bits (no kids, no car, reduced flights, eating less meat, not buying stuff) but is it enough? I share the despair of so many others but try to find hope and optimism that things can get better.

Extinction Rebellion fighting climate change

Personal Development

The arrogance of only speaking English

If our failure to help the environment makes me despair, then I take inspiration from my own efforts to try to improve my foreign language abilities. I want to make a transformation in my life by being able to communicate well in languages other than my mother tongue of English. Imagine how we could transform the world if we could all communicate better. Indeed, nothing worse than British people who can only speak English arrogantly assuming they don’t need to know any other languages.

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”

Benjamin Franklin

The Week Ahead

  • Should be able to get in 3 gym sessions and a 5K jog-run
  • Will need to spend time with mum to make sure she’s coping OK after her fall
  • Mine and Dave’s lunch with our old friends Cedric and Alan last week was cancelled due to poor Alan needing a tooth removed. 🙁 But I am meeting Phyllis on Monday for a catch-up lunch
  • Didn’t get to see ‘The Wicker Man’ (Director’s Cut) last week. Might get to see it in the coming week. But I do need to get more Art and Culture in my life.

And Finally…

In the week that London Pride happened:

Militant homosexuality

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