Obsession – Major and Minor, Good and Bad

Our lives are made up of obsessions and each individual life becomes more understandable if we examine it in terms of that. Things that consume us, control our thinking, and drive us forward. Nearly anything can be an obsession including money, relationships, children, death, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. Indeed, obsessions are what give our lives identity and purpose. Plus they help us to get through the everyday drudgery and various daily idiosyncrasies.

Sometimes obsessions are major things and sometimes they are more low key but there nevertheless. But not all obsessions are bad, some can be good in that we need to put all our attention on something to make a real difference. But then clearly a good obsession can become bad if that blocks out other good things in our life.

I’ve definitely had an obsession with work in the past. Working more hours than necessary and ignoring my own health needs. But that’s fairly normal for most people these days. My obsessions at the moment are looking after my mum, trying to keep fit to deal with my health issues, and keeping control of my weight. But as the Roman saying goes, ‘Nothing in Excess’. So even for my good obsessions I need sometimes to give myself a break.

“Never do things others can do and will do if there are things others cannot do or will not do.”

Amelia Earhart

Mum: A relatively good week, at least we got out

As usual, we spent lots of time simply being together watching our favourite TV shows. This is all fine but I would be really pleased if mum would go out more. Me doing her shopping, collecting meds, etc is fine but I want her to get more exercise outside. Not an obsession (or a very minor one) but I really think it will be better for her health if she could move about more and get some sunshine.

So I was really pleased on Friday when mum agreed to meet me in Hammersmith at the big Sainsbury’s so we could do a big shop together. We met after I had been to the physio (see below) but she was in a bit of a state because the bus stops she usually uses were closed and so she ended up walking much more than expected.

After a rest we did the shop then went to get an Uber home. Only to find that the main street outside was closed due to a bus catching fire. So we had to walk on further and eventually I got the Uber app working in order to get a car though the traffic was pretty bad with the road closed by the bus fire. All in all, I was delighted to get mum out but it was certainly not as straight forward as I had anticipated.

Man feels sad

Dave: The decorating is underway

I suppose one of Dave’s nice obsessions has been his burning desire to re-decorate his flat. And so the process of doing up his bedroom has begun. We’ve moved out loads of stuff, giving a lot of it to the charity shop. And I helped Dave take up the carpet and underlay.

Next steps were washing, brushing, and sanding then painting the ceiling followed by the walls and woodwork. Dave has assured me that I just need to let him get on with it as he’s been really looking forward to doing it. And that was despite him ‘having a fall’ (as old people do) and hurting his ribs.

Cedric and Alan @ L’Escargot

A wonderful meet on Wednesday lunchtime. Cedric and Alan are a kind and generous couple. Really friends of Dave’s who has known them for about 30 years. Both retired but still extremely active doing lots of things to help others in the community. Their generosity is inspirational and they took us out for lunch which was so kind.

We went to the legendary restaurant L’Escargot in Soho – more details on it here and here. Indeed, it’s described as a Soho institution and that is true. A lovely elegant setting and delicious French food. I had to have the classic French onion soup followed by duck breast. An absolutely charming lunch with good friends in a luxurious setting. And so pleased to hear that Cedric and Alan are focusing more on looking after themselves as well as others.

Gym: Keeping an obsession under control

I love going to the gym, it’s clearly something that obsesses me in a good way. I’m doing it to improve my health both physical and mental. Managed to workout on the mornings of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Working on the different parts of my body that I feel need focus on each particular day.

But, as with all obsessions, I have had to fight going overboard. I thought about also working out on Thursday morning (who needs rest days?). But convinced myself to take a day off which actually meant I could spend extra time with Dave and mum.

34 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £16 per session.

range of dumbells

Swim: Trying to get into the zone

Went for a swim on Tuesday afternoon and it was lovely. The pool was relatively empty and I limited myself to just 20 lengths. It’s so easy to get carried away and push yourself to as many lengths as possible. But I just want to do a limited number, get into a chilled zone, and feel relaxed but knowing I’m doing good for my health.

I didn’t do the gym on Thurs morning and also had to stop myself from going for a swim on Thurs afternoon instead. It really is that thing about ‘Nothing to Excess’ in that I mustn’t become obsessed, and keep a varied pattern to my existence.

Weight: Still not completely in control of my eating

I definitely have a weight obsession. In large part because I was a fat kid who ate too much. I won’t go back to that but there’s still a part of me that wants to have a washboard stomach even though I know that’s impossible.

A slight increase (a pound) on the previous week but nothing too serious as weight can yo-yo and there’s no evidence of a real upward trajectory. Though I suppose I am slightly disappointed in that I felt I was more in touch with myself around food. Being aware of when I am really hungry and not over-eating but perhaps I’m not as in touch with myself as I thought. Still work to do to get my food intake under proper control.

lose weight now

Physio: The end of the road

Saw my NHS physio for the last time on Friday – my decision. My Achilles injury is a lot better though it still gives me occasional twinges. I’m doing the exercises he prescribed but I really can’t see much point in us meeting any more. He agreed and pointed out I can self-refer again if I need to. I want to go jogging again so we tried out the running machine and everything was OK. But I do need to start again at the beginning of the ‘Couch to 5K’ programme.

animation of a fat man running

Two books were completed last week.

‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ by Shehan Karunatilaka

A novel I have been meaning to read for ages. Not least as it won The Booker Prize 2022. And I have heard many good things about it including at the previous week’s Velvet Page Book Club. It’s also nice to read a book by an author I have never come across before.

I had some indications about what the plot was but wasn’t totally aware. It’s been sold as a ‘whodunnit’. The main voice in the book is the man who is murdered and we follow him trying to find out how he died and why. But he has a stronger obsession which is ensuring that the photos he took incriminating various war criminals are shown to the world.

However, there’s a lot more to the book. The setting of the Sri Lankan civil war in the 1980s brings to light how bloody and awful that war was. I remember it when it happened but I had forgotten about the widespread civilian massacres and suicide bombers. And there’s a whole gay love theme I hadn’t expected.

But perhaps the biggest part of the book is a meditation on death and the after life. The author shows a potential as to what may happen when we die and this has as much claim to be true as any other suggestion. It did remind me a wee bit of ‘5 people you meet in Heaven’. But here there are demons and other creatures from mythology many of whom are seeking revenge on the living.

Horror story

‘Bolla’ by Pajtim Statovci

Love is all about obsession and this is a book about love. A Serb and Albanian meet in 1990s Pristina just as war started ; another one of the internecine racial bloodbaths that defined the end of Yugoslavia. They split and their lives go in two very different directions. Till one returns to try and find the other as it is the only way he feels he can find meaning and happiness in his life.

I won’t ruin the ending but I’ll just say that ultimately there are things that make us wonder how nice both people are. And love or any obsession does not always lead us to where we think we should be.

I have read one of Statovci’s books before ‘My cat Yugoslavia’. I found it a bit hard going and ‘Bolla’ isn’t always easy despite being short. There’s a common theme in the author’s books relating to conflicts in the Balkans and being a refugee. Will be interesting if he can develop into other areas.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

QPR: Back in the shit

Supporting any sporting team is a sort of obsession. You follow how they do and your mood is affected when they win or lose. Indeed, we know domestic violence increases when a national football team loses. Dreadful week for QPR – a team of lazy and complacent players. Two games – one draw (caused by a QPR own goal in the 85th minute) and one big defeat (3-0 to Hull).

So just 1 point from the last 3 games. We are very firmly back in relegation danger and only 3 hard games left to play. And we are so dependent on how other teams around us perform. I have a nasty feeling everything could hinge on the last day. And I genuinely feel our chances of not being relegated are only 50:50.


We are screwed and no-one cares

I am deeply worried about climate change. Not because that it will end planet Earth but it could certainly make life horrendous for humanity. And there was another report last week highlighting the global heating crisis we are facing. The world’s warmest March on record – read about it here.

But it’s very frustrating that others simply deny that there is any problem. It really does feel like we are in deep shit and nobody cares. I honestly don’t know what will make people take note and change their behaviour. It feels like the obsession with the lives we currently live and our desire for more means that even if massive areas of the world flooded and millions died then most people would still want to fly away on holiday as much as possible.

Spider plant

  • Target is 3 gym sessions and 1 swim. Plus be good to lose that pound I gained this week if I can sort my eating out.
  • Couple of health things: dentist on Tuesday and 6 month check-in at the hospital with my HIV consultant on Wednesday
  • Time with mum and space for Dave so he can get on with the decorating. I’ve arranged to meet my old friend Daisy on Wed evening.
  • Carry on reading the sci-fi novel ‘Prophet’ by Helen MacDonald and Sin Blache. Plus I’m gonna start another book because I enjoy two on the go at the same time.
  • Tick, tick, tick – first of QPR’s 3 final games to come next Saturday
  • Carry on with my obsession with languages by doing my daily Duolingo
Putin and Trump in each other's arms

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