My Ongoing Adventures as a Drop-Out

Mon 17 – Sun 23 July 2023

In my previous blog (read it here), I reflected on if I was living the dream? A piece of feedback was that it sounded boring. I will preserve the person’s anonymity as it was meant in a humorous way (only to say their name begins with P and sounds like Syphilis). But I suppose that is the point of where I am in my life. There isn’t a lot of ‘exciting’ stuff happening though you could argue all life is about boring mundanity.

Rather I have effectively become a drop-out out for a bit by stepping away from the career ladder and living off my savings. It’s an attempt at an alternative way of life. And one of the points of these blogs is to document for others and myself if this type of lifestyle is possible and desirable.

So I am not trying to build a career nor behaving like many people on social media saying ‘look at me and how successful I am’. Rather I am saying ‘this is what it is like to live if you choose to drop-out for a bit’. Plus don’t worry about following the herd or simply seeking the good opinions of others.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Albert Einstein

Travel as escape isn’t the answer

I suppose I could be a drop-out and go round the world. Yep that would probably make a more interesting blog. But it would be expensive and it’s a bit of bullshit that you have to run away to discover yourself. Life is about monotony and if you aren’t working or have kids or be fighting in a war then you have to face that and decide what else becomes central to your existence.

What to do? Giving it over to fate

Health and Efficiency

Exercise and weight loss is a central aspect of my current drop-out lifestyle. For the first time in years, I am putting at the centre of my being reducing my weight and making myself healthy.

Swim instead of jog-run

‘A change is as good as a rest’ – a particularly good mantra for exercise especially if you are dealing with aches and pains. I’ve written in recent blogs about an ache that has developed in my hips. Sadly, I have to admit that it seems to have come on with me doing my 5K jog-runs which I have been really enjoying. So I decided to go back to swimming and skip the jog-run last week.

Thurs morning me and Dave went to the pool and did a really nice series of lengths. I think it was 20, Dave thinks it was 22. This is the problem for me with swimming. That I find it a bit dull and lose track of what is going on. I focused on slow back-stroke and front-crawl. I would naturally do breast-stroke but that is more prone to aggravating my knees and hips.

Overall, an enjoyable experience and will definitely repeat. But I do want to go back to my jog-runs as well perhaps with more space between each 5K. Also fun that Dave took me for fish and chips after we had finished LOL.

freestyle

Gym: Feeling good

3 great sessions on my usual mid-mornings of Mon, Wed, and Fri. Love being able to go to the gym regularly at these off-peak times which is only possible because of my drop-out. I am continuing to increase the weight levels I am pushing and my body definitely feels stronger.

76 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £6.50 per session.

dumbells in the gym

My tips to lose weight

A big success of my life since stopping paid work in December is that I have shifted over a stone in weight. Down to 12 stone 12 pounds last week. 🙂 I thought people might find it useful if I listed what I have done to make this happen because it may help others.

  • Skipping breakfast about 5 days out of 7 each week. Is there a meal you could skip?
  • Eating less generally primarily one main meal per day and one light meal or just grazing through the day. This must be related to having less stress to deal with. Do you ‘stress eat’?
  • Consuming smaller portions and less complex meals. It’s great to eat just one thing and appreciate that rather than have a plate crammed with stuff where individual foods can’t be appreciated.
  • Apparently losing weight is 80% food, 20% exercise. But I find I only lose weight when I take more exercise. How can you put more exercise in your life? Perhaps simply more walking and standing is a starting point.
  • Earlier nights help. I’ve got into the habit of going to bed about 9 and reading till I fall asleep around 10.30. You can’t eat if you are asleep.
man weighing himself

Books and Reading

One of the values of being a drop out is having time and I used that to finish two books in the last week.

‘The Space Merchants’ by Frederik Pohl and C M Kornbluth: 70 years old but amazingly prescient

A bit of classic sci-fi and very impressive it is too. Originally written in 1952 but reissued as a Sci-Fi Masterwork. Pohl is a much lauded author who I have been wanting to read for ages. I saw this book at the library and thought ‘why not?’, after all it is relatively short at under 200 pages.

There are aspects that are wonderfully old-fashioned. It envisages a future without internet, AI or robots. And people still using cash and newspapers. In a super capitalist society, a few big corporations dominate society and government, controlling people’s lives by managing both global production and marketing processes. Our anti-hero works at one of the main companies but there is a drop-out, anti-capitalism resistance. Central to the story is how to sell to people the totally undesirable idea of being the first colonists on Venus to live a hell-like existence.

A really excellent book I would highly recommend. Dated but rather bask in the prescience of the authors. It is a wonderfully modern novel of where the world could be heading. Tragic to find out that Kornbluth suffered badly whilst fighting fascism during WWII and died of a heart attack at the young age of 36. Worth having a look at the book’s Wikipedia page here that dissects it with a lot more detail.

Phobos

‘Trio’ by William Boyd: Characters to care about

Boyd is a prodigious contemporary author who I haven’t got round to reading yet. Indeed, there are many authors like this. But I will definitely look out for some more of his stuff after this novel. It’s set in 1968 and centres on people involved directly and indirectly in making a movie in Brighton. It is a very well written book and totally engaged me. Especially nice to find a gay theme I hadn’t expected.

Two particular things made an impression on me. First, it’s based in 1968 and has all the features of that period like the student riots, the new ‘permissive society’, the 1967 legalisation of being gay, and drugs. But it also made me realise how similar life was then to now. That 50 years is not really that much of a time difference.

Second, the characters are brilliantly developed. Their lives are opened up and I genuinely cared what happened to them. Such that I was sad to end the book and wanted to know more about how their lives would unfold in the future.

seagull on a brighton railing

My latest reading list

Two wonderfully eclectic books but both very good:

  • ‘Jimi Hendrix live in Lviv’ by Andrey Kurkov. Nominated for the International Booker Prize 2023, this is a wonderful bit of Ukrainian surrealism.
  • ‘Young Mungo’ by Douglas Stuart. The follow-up to the brilliant ‘Shuggie Bain’. Another story of the life of a Glaswegian boy trying his best with his poorly dealt hand in life.
Rows and rows of beautiful books

Family and Friends

Mum and Patrick: What getting older means

Another advantage of being a drop-out is being able to spend time with mum. I’m glad that I can have time with her as she gets older. But not sure I will be able to keep this up when I do return to working but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Her leg is still black and blue from her fall. I suppose it’s that thing about injuries taking a lot longer time to heal as you get older. Apart from that she is in OK form and we have been having our usual verbal sparring. I wish she could be more active and do more stuff on her own but that is the reality of where we are with her age and chronic mobility problems.

Meanwhile, me and Dave had our regular meeting with our friend Patrick on Saturday morning. It’s always good to see him and check he’s doing OK before we walk him back to his flat. He’s trying to avoid doing any medical things at the moment or have contact with doctors. You can understand where he is and how getting older means your life just becomes governed and determined by medical questions and investigations.

Alternative pic of older person

Art and Culture

Never enough time

Funny to think that when you drop-out, time would be an issue. In theory, you should gain all the time in the world to do everything you want to do. Same thinking for when we retire. But the reality is that the time you used to work is now filled up with other stuff that is everyday living. And time is finite, thus many of the things you planned to do just don’t get done.

‘Becoming Elizabeth’: the nightmare of court politics

And so another week when I can’t relay any great cultural events or visits happening. However, I have fallen for a very good new drama on Channel 4. ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ is about the period between the death of Henry VIII in Jan 1547 and Elizabeth ascending to the throne in Nov 1558. Eleven turbulent years of short-lived monarchs and religious strife. Yet the important thing to remember is that those living at the time were not to know what would happen.

It’s a beautiful and authentic piece of historical drama – great acting, lighting, costumes, and settings. Plus all the machinations of court life as people attempt to work out who will win and who they should hitch their wagon to. A definite reminder of how we live life forwards but understand it backwards.

Sustainability

Furniture to the charity shop

A quiet week in that I am still worried (terrified?) about what is happening with the climate but just doing my normal small contributions of not buying stuff, eating less meat, and so on. Part of the problem is that though we see crazy temperatures around the Mediterranean and people fleeing for their lives from wild fires in Rhodes, the fact that we have clouds and rain in the UK makes it feel that climate change isn’t happening now. Me and Dave did use a free credit to hire a Zip Car for an hour to get some furniture we no longer need to the charity shop.

The throwaway society

Personal Development

Progress continues

Drop-out doesn’t mean doss around all day doing nothing – that would be boring. I am carrying on with my quest to improve my language skills and continue to do Duolingo lessons daily in Spanish and German. It’s great also to practice my Spanish with the guys who work at the gym; really useful to ensure I am getting the basics right and not making too many silly little mistakes.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

John F Kennedy

The Week Ahead

  • Another week in my drop-out life. Plan is my normal 3 gym sessions, another swim, and a jog-run. Got to attempt the latter to see if my hips hold up OK.
  • Should get through at least one of my two excellent current reading books
  • Time to be spent with mum and I need to start setting up some meetings with friends though many of them are going on hols, etc
  • Looking forward to the next episode of ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ and must get in some visits to nice cultural places

And Finally…

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