Little lives we live, both for good and bad

Mon 21 – Sun 27 Feb 2022

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”

Lenin

In our little lives, we have definitely lived through a week that will be remembered in history. The treacherous invasion of Ukraine by Putin and the brave resistance of the Ukrainians. Will they hold out? Only time will tell. And now we also have the added spectre of nuclear war as well as Europe led by Germany becoming a new military power. It is things like this that can make us realise how small our lives are (and how fucking evil some people are).

Some people live terrible lives

We live our day-to-day existence whilst the people of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities live new lives in basements under siege, as street fighters risking their lives, or as refugees fleeing for safety. Of course, there are people in other parts of the world in similar situations – people in Syria and Hong Kong trying to live the normal little lives we take for granted. For us no shortages of food, water or electricity. No fear of a knock at the door in the middle of the night by secret police. People not wandering around with guns. No need to fear for snipers or bombers.

There’s a lot to be said for normality

We really don’t appreciate the good lives we have until they are gone. Indeed, I have written before of the appeal of routine. And as we make our lives worse by not caring about others who are living terrible lives so we do the same by concerning ourselves with silly comparisons. Such as worrying about the extended Royal Family and other wannabe celebs like the Trumps or the Kardashians. Why do we live in awe of rich and famous people? We feed their sense of self-importance and make ourselves unhappy.

Be happy and grateful

So my message is enjoy the little lives we have – the familiarity, normality and routine that gives us comfort. Let us not waste that in pointless envy of others. It’s linked to what I talked about in last week’s blog about ‘stop caring’ from a positive perspective – read it here. But we should all strive for justice and fairness of everybody everywhere. The right to live the mundane existence that we take for granted until it is too late when it is taken away from us.

Books and Reading

3 weeks completed last week which I take as a real achievement. The ability to read whatever books we want is the sign of well-spent little lives. Other people have censorship and book burning to deal with. Even in ‘civilised’ places like Russia and America where LGBTQIA+ books are banned in schools, colleges, and public libraries.

‘Memorial’ by Bryan Washington

I wrote about this a bit in my previous blog. It’s a very good contemporary American novel. A gay couple with one man being black and the other of Japanese origin. Do they really love each other? Everything is turned on its head when as the mother comes from Japan to visit, the son returns there to see his dying father. So his partner is left with the mother who he has never met before.

The story of a relationship going through problems. And both partners dealing with family issues. Plus a big under-lying theme for both men of the problems gay men have in being able to communicate and empathise with their fathers. Little lives turned upside down, it’s a book that left me with lots of after-thoughts.

‘Far side of the world’ by Patrick O’Brian

Again I mentioned this in last week’s blog. O’Brian wrote a series of novels following the early nineteenth century nautical adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend / ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin. Their adventures take them around the world.

This story takes them to the south Atlantic and the Pacific on the hunt for an American ship attacking British whalers. Stories of storms, injuries, meetings with indigenous people, natural discoveries, and shipwreck. It really is another world – a million miles away from our current little lives. Though you do also feel the claustrophobia of life at sea. And it’s a world of men where the main isolated female character seems to be introduced only to be killed off.

‘The eye of the tyger’ by Paul McAuley

My final book completed last week was a quite trashy Dr Who novella. Less than 100 pages, this was a series of books published in the early 2000s. It’s a fun enough romp written by a respected sci-fi author. Pure escapism and comfort as the wonderful 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) involves himself in an insurrection of a planet-size space ship caught in the orbit of a black hole. The sort of thing we all need now and then to stop our lives becoming too mundane.

eighth doctor

My 3 current reading books

I love having several books on the go at once:

  • Still getting on with β€˜The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’. Loving the philosophy but not so sure about some of the Buddhist religious dogma.
  • Started 2 new books. The first is ‘The Windsor Faction’ by DJ Taylor. A counter-factual where Edward VIII stayed as King during the war due to the death of Mrs Simpson. Much lauded though I’m finding it quite slow and hard to engage with.
  • Also reading ‘The Passenger’ by Ulrich A. Boschwitz on my kindle (which has developed a crack on the screen πŸ™ ). Written in 1938 and re-released to critical acclaim, it’s the story based on real-life experience of a Jewish person trying to escape Nazi Germany.
The importance of books

Health and Efficiency

Gym

One aspect of my own little life I adore is the ability to get to the gym a couple of times per week. Readers of my blog will know how down I can get when I am unable to do my gym sessions. I adore getting there midweek, mid-morning when it is quiet and then just potter around the gym doing my favourite exercises and trying out new ones. Big concentration post-pandemic is on legs as a way to try and support my problematic knees hit by osteo-arthritis.

12 sessions at the gym since I renewed my membership = c.Β£42 per session. Money well spent in my book. πŸ™‚

Gym

Weight

Doesn’t look good at the moment. Building on last week’s increase, appears I have gone over the dreaded 14 stone mark now – see the details here. I know I have some days where my eating goes out of control mainly due to general busyness in my life and particularly that linked to work. Oh well, I have said before that I am not going to cause myself pain – our little lives are too short to be riddled with pain and regret beating ourselves up. Hopefully I will be able to lose weight in the future.

man weighing himself

Family and Friends

Not much news about friends. Apart from the fact that I have finally made contact with an old Comic Relief colleague who I am really looking forward to meeting in the very near future. And I saw my old job-share mate Nissa at an online event – see below.

Mum is ill

The big news last week was my mum getting ill. Dave’s mum continues to recover from her operation but it does feel a bit like she isn’t as active as before. But my mum has been hit by heavy cold like symptoms. She’s effectively spent the week in bed feeling weary and headachey coughing up phlegm. Don’t think it’s covid as no temperature, dry cough, nor loss of taste / smell. But who knows. She is getting better now and I have spent a lot of time last week keeping an eye on her.

teddy is ill

Tech for Good

Work is always work

Another busy working week. So much of our little lives are dominated by work – probably explains why so many of us are unhappy and depressed. No matter how much we like our jobs, work inevitably brings demands, deadlines, and disputes. It’s the nature of paid work and the moronic ‘find something you enjoy doing so it doesn’t feel like work’ over-estimates the inevitability that whatever work you do means having to do things you don’t enjoy and would naturally avoid if you could. Don’t believe the capitalist hype.

Main highlights of last week:

  • Ongoing delivery of our project with Citizens Advice to help more people in need get support faster. Also arranging a webinar about it for next week as part of our internal Festival of Social Change.
  • Work with colleagues to deliver our project to offer new support to the non-profit org BMMRO we have helped before. Also possible extension to another charity in the near future.
  • Arranging a visit to meet with my colleagues in Newcastle
  • Arranging an event in June as part of the Green Software Foundation Global Summit as well as dealing with queries related to the action we are taking on climate change
  • Joined a Catalyst session on Wed to discuss digital maturity in the not-for-profit sector. Great to see one of the presentations by my old Comic job-share partner Nissa of Think Social Tech

The joy of diminishing returns

So pleased I was able to stick to just my 3 work days last week. But there were emails to check out on my days off. πŸ™ So looking forward to my colleague returning from sabbatical and going down to 2 days p.w. And then in the future, I look forward to moving into the new semi-retirement I have talked about in other blogs.

Cocktail in the Yumbo

The Week Ahead

  • 3 work days and 2 days off – should mean getting to the gym twice. My only worry is that I pick up mum’s ‘cold’
  • Two in-person work events: the webinar about Citizens Advice from our office on Wed and a guided walk around Soho on Mon to celebrate February LGBT History month
  • Won’t be seeing mum so much as normal due to tube strikes through the week that would mean I can’t get in and out of the office – easier to stay with Dave for a couple of nights. Does mean missing out on Pancake Day with her πŸ™
  • Carry on with my lovely reading
  • Hopefully catching up in person with Nissa on Thurs lunchtime then me and Dave meeting our friend Stuart on Thurs evening. Latter will mean missing Velvet Page Book Club.
  • Will almost certainly indulge in ‘doom scrolling’ – constant checking of updates via social media. Hopefully the poor people of Ukraine can hold out though, inevitably, there will be suffering. If they don’t win then Taiwan is probably next. And one day Russia will escape the death grip of Putin either through being unseated or dying – unless he decides to use his nuclear arsenal and then we are all finished.

And Finally…

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