Sad news gives perspective to our lives

Mon 23 – Sun 29 August 2021

Farewell and ‘thank you’ to my wonderful friend Sara

The big news last week was very sad indeed. Another brilliant friend has died. πŸ™ Such deaths cause me to examine my life – how can they not? Indeed, I remember the death of my friend James in 2015 (was it really 6 years ago?). That really affected me and I still think of him now, imagining what he would say and do in certain situations. He was a wise if impulsive person and I miss him dearly.

And staggered to hear last week about the tragically early death of my friend Sara. She was someone a bit younger than me and we met about 20 years ago when we worked together. She later retrained and become my Personal Trainer for a bit. We always kept in contact, she actually helped me set up this website. A wonderfully friendly and kind person, talented in so many different ways. And now she’s gone, all too soon. A terrible burden for her family and I miss her. One of those people I always thought would be around.

How do we make sense of sad news like this? And crazy things like the events at Kabul airport as well as climate change? For me, it’s just reinforcing a belief that is growing and spreading within me – a bit like a good cancer. I am convinced that, at this stage in my life, time is simply more important than money. That, for me, the rat race is over and it is about enjoying the remaining 20 or 30 years of living I have left. And this is the lens I am looking at life through now. I’m gradually learning not to give a fuck.

“Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.”

Eckhart Tolle

My ongoing battle to lose weight

Perhaps it is sad that I have spent my whole life trying to deal with a weight problem. I’ve given up ever having a washboard stomach and now I try to lose weight to benefit my health. In particular, I want to help my old joints keep going. My bloody knee is still giving my pain for no reason as I lay in bed at night.

At least one blowout night last week. On Thurs, me and Dave went to the great Turkish near my flat. Plus my rearranged work days to accommodate interviews meant my routine of day at work / eat normal alternating with day not working / semi-starve has gone a bit to pot. But I’ve tried not to go crazy and my weight is down to 13 stone 5 pounds. πŸ™‚ This makes me happy whereas, quite simply, weight gain makes me sad.

It’s gonna be hard to keep pushing it down. I do get hungry but if I am going to enjoy the rest of my years then I need to be lighter. I see too many elderly people with their life restricted by being over-weight.

Meanwhile, some lovely long walks around London. But again not as many as normal because of my rearranged work days.

Hard choices

So two solid days of interviews to sort the discovery projects we will work on – short 3 week episodes where we put in 2-3 pro-bono staff to help an organisation make tech progress. All the applicants were brilliant and it is genuinely sad that we can’t do them all. It’s a bit like when someone young dies and you think of the potential lost. Who knows what brilliant work we may have stopped by not supporting it. But there’s a danger here of getting into the cul-de-sac of ‘What Ifs?’ and that doesn’t really lead anywhere.

over-thinking

Hard days and a much needed rest day

Very intense interviews at work and the deliberations afterwards definitely affected my sleep. I’ve had real problem sleeping last week because my head is buzzing with thoughts and ideas. Though not all bad, some were good thoughts but I could still have done without them.

I have got to learn to pace myself with work. I love the Tech for Good stuff I am currently doing. But I mustn’t over-reach and exhaust myself either physically or mentally. Remember only 20-30 years left and our meaning in life is defined by more than just work.

Indeed, last week instead of 3 days I did 2 very full interview days and 2 half days – including Fri afternoon back in the office. This meant I only had one full day off – Thurs. And I so needed that day. Didn’t stop the buzzing thoughts in my head but gave me some time to do non-work stuff and simply try to enjoy life.

β€œThe wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher.”

Chinese Proverb

Tech For Good: Responsible Tech

A definite trend I am seeing at the moment is the rise of ‘responsible tech’. It is so sad to see how tech is being used for bad. Drones killing people, digital surveillance, fake news, the dark web. What happened to the optimistic days when Google’s slogan was ‘Do no harm’? But tech has made our lives better in so many ways and is neither inherently good, bad or neutral. We as humans make tech beneficial or harmful through the choices we make. And making those choices is what Responsible Tech is about.

Useful article here and upcoming webinar, including my colleague Jeantine, on Tues 31 Aug – details here. There’s also a day long Responsible Tech Summit on 15 Sept being run by the brilliant All Tech is Human – details here.

progress being made

The return of Dave and mum

Great news that both partner and mother are safely back from holidays. Dave had a bit of a mare on Monday when his carefully created climate-friendly train journey from Berlin to London was thrown into chaos by a German train strike. Had to fly after all on a mega expensive last-minute flight to get back. πŸ™

Overall, he was sad about his time in Germany and wasn’t convinced all the hassle and expense was worth it. Definitely not like the pre-covid days with needing to show his vaccine passport to get in anywhere, clubs and bars nowhere as busy as they were, and 2 tests costing Β£200 in total to get back to the UK. πŸ™

Mum had a lovely time with her best friend at her place in Hampshire. Pottering around the shops as well as watching TV together. I spoke to her during the week and she sounded well and happy but I was a bit saddened by how old she sounded. The ageing of our parents is something that always has an impact on us reminding us of the ticking clock and our own mortality.

Holiday plans to give hope

You don’t know the future as the news of Sara’s passing shows so enjoy life while you can. And I am remembering how hard it is to keep to part-time hours – work just spills over. Same with full-time hours these days I guess. I know that I need to pace myself.

And so I have booked some holidays. I am have taken a chance and booked about 2 weeks with Philip in Torremolinos end of Oct / early Nov. Who knows the sad impact that covid disruption and poor weather may have. But you have to take chances and enjoy yourself while you can. To this end, me and Dave have also booked Gran Can for late Feb. Fingers crossed but it’s good to have hope in sad times.

Gran Can hotel lit up

A great reading book

I am absolutely loving my current reading book, ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers. It’s the story of a group of people in America and how their lives come together to try to save trees. It is sad how much we are destroying the environment, chopping down trees that have been around for centuries. Long live Extinction Rebellion I say. At least someone is trying to make a difference. How much have we screwed this planet? πŸ™

I’m also carrying on with Anita Brookner’s fun ‘Hotel du Lac’ on my kindle. Very well written but so amazingly middle class. Plus I’ve started to dip into another collection of Dr Who short stories. As I have written previously (read it here), Dr Who always lifts me when I am feeling down and sad.

Personal development

Haven’t talked about this for a while in my blog. But patiently it goes on. Ultimately all personal learning is wasted as it is gone when we die. But in the mean time, I strive to continually improve and boost my knowledge. Not sad at all. Learning so much in my new job about delivering tech projects and about working in the private sector. And I carry on trying to learn a bit of coding. However, main learning are my daily language lessons via Duolingo – German and Spanish in particular. Did I mention that I’ve passed the point of 365 (semi) consecutive days of learning? πŸ™‚

The Week Ahead

  • August Bank Holiday. I love bank holidays but this one always makes me sad by telling me it’s the end of summer. πŸ™
  • Depressing conversations trying to explain to people why we have decided not to give them a Discovery project. Hopefully good things can still happen.
  • A mate’s 60th birthday party on Sat (postponed from last year) – in Watford so me and Dave will be staying over in a hotel
  • Velvet Page on Thurs. I think it’s a book I’ve read so I will try and get along to our in-person meet.
  • Carry on with semi-starvation and walks to lose weight
  • Time with mum and Dave – Sara’s sad death has reinforced to me the need to appreciate the people you love while you can
  • Will finish ‘The Overstory’ and continue with ‘Hotel Du Lac’ as well as the collection of Dr Who short stories. Plus the excitement of starting a new reading book.
  • QPR’s winning streak continues…
  • Ongoing personal development, trying to live sustainably, and attempting to have more art and culture in my life πŸ™‚

And Finally…

Acceptance or struggle

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