Transience: This too shall pass

Mon 19 – Sun 25 Sept 2022

Previously I had written about ‘The Unreality of the Mourning Week’ (read it here). So inevitably and sadly we came to the Queen’s funeral. The main thing I took away from this is simply the transience of life. And I link that to the saying ‘this too shall pass’ – apparently originating from Persia but with something similar appearing in the Bible.

Good is transient…

I think there is a definite connection between transience and this saying. Basically nothing lasts forever and whatever we have now will not be here in the future. At some point, everything we love, cherish, and desire will be gone. Obviously that’s a painful thing to come to grips with but the truth.

…and so is bad

But it also applies to the horrible things in life. They are also transient. And so they will come and then go. This means that all the good and bad, pleasure and pain in life is only short-lived. Though the relativity of ‘short’ varies and can last years.

People like the Queen who lived through the Second World War knew that it would end at some point. And the horrible Russian invasion of Ukraine will also be over one day. Hopefully it will have a good ending (without Putin using his nukes to defend his toxic masculinity) but the war will end at some point.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Robert Frost (an American poet)

The Queen’s Funeral

Dave was away on Monday and mum had gone to her friend’s place for a week away, so I spent the day at Dave’s flat watching the funeral. As he lives centrally, I couldn’t even get out of the flat with security everywhere though there was nowhere to go anyway.

96 years of life and 70 years on the throne but now she is gone. This was the real goodbye. As someone said, it was us realising that she would never ever pop up again on the TV cutting a cake. And in the same way, there will be no more great novels from Hilary Mantel. An amazing life all over – that is the transience of all of our existences.

A funeral of slow pageantry which emphasised an old-fashioned view of what being British means. I suppose that is what people expected. And the drawn out nature of everything gave those who wanted it the ability of participation. By waiting in line to see the Queen lying in state or being able to watch the coffin go past.

I went out of Dave’s flat about 6pm when things had quietened down. And there were loads of people wandering about, wondering what to do. The funeral was over and we felt disconcerted particularly as everything was closed. I had the idea of soothing the appreciation of my transience with the panacea of fish and chips but that too was shut.

Dying but still beautiful flower

Health and Efficiency

Knocked out by a cold

Wednesday I got hit by a cold. I’m assuming it was just a cold but it struck me hard. Temperature, sort throat, light-headed, tight chest. Where this came from, God knows. But I know it’s not the thing that will kill me, it will pass.

However, it did knock me out. Didn’t feel great working from home on Wed whilst also waiting for a repair man who never turned up. Had to skip the gym on Thursday – too ill. Worked from home again on Friday as I had some important meetings but I continued to feel as rough as arseholes. Didn’t really start feeling near normal till the weekend. I suspect the fact we’ve all been in semi-isolation for 2 years has meant I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a bad cold.

How I feel after a difficult week

Lovely, deep, hallucinatory sleep

One of the defining features of being ill was feeling knackered. Went to bed early on Wed, Thurs, and Fri nights plus had a lovely long sleep during the day on Thurs. All this sleep was accompanied with very trippy dreams – epic and hallucinatory. Indeed, on some of them I came round and desperately wanted to go back into the (lost) dream to find out what happened next.

Gym, walking, weight

Queen’s funeral and illness meant 2 gym sessions lost last week. Just to the gym on Tuesday for a decent workout. Did manage to get some long walks in during the week though. One on Wed afternoon was quite hard work but when you’ve got a temperature and feel sick, sometimes you just need to get out in the fresh air. Nice walks with Dave at the weekend. My weight is up a bit which puts paid to the idea that this patch of illness may have curtailed my appetite.

64 gym sessions since the start of the year divided by the annual membership = £7.74 per session.

INR

The previous week’s dodgy test result (signalling I was prone to internal bleeding), meant I had to return to check the reduced warfarin dosage was having the right impact. Made it just inside the range I need to be in. Thus, a fortnight gap (a part blessing) before I have to go back to have my blood clotting levels checked again.

warfarin tablets

Work Life Balance / Tech for Good

Working life is all about transience. Each job we fill is time limited, it will end at some point no matter how important we are or how hard we work. And eventually we will all retire and die. Key thing is to do the best you can and ride the crappy bits. Great this week to explore a new Tech for Good project with a really cool charity we have worked with before and continuing to make new contacts.

However, mine is definitely a period of transience in that my current job will finish in Dec though by my own choosing. Always good to decide when to go and when things have peaked rather than being in decline. Though I may stay on for a few weeks in Jan to do a handover to the new person if necessary. No point in being dogmatic.

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men.”

Charles de Gaulle

Books and Reading

Strange that both of last week’s books had a Japanese context, pure coincidence though. Did manage a quick trip to the Exchange on Tues afternoon to get rid of a load of books I’ve read. And a trip to the library late on Fri as a reason to get out of the flat and get some fresh air.

‘Nagasaki’ by Eric Faye

A thin book that’s been on my book shelf for ages. A story set in the Japanese city but written by a Frenchman. And it’s nothing to do with the atom bomb drop. Rather it’s a strange tale about a man who thinks there is someone in his house. Won’t ruin it by telling you what happens but definitely worth reading. Feeds into my feeling of the transience of life. That what we feel is so certain often is not.

‘First person singular’ by Haruki Murakami

Love, love, love this writer. As you can see by the list of books I have read (here), there are many by him. Though he is prolific and there are many more to read – thank goodness. He is a surreal and dreamlike writer who bases stuff in real, everyday life but then makes it fantastical. And he also dwells on the transience of things, that nothing really lasts forever.

This book is a collection of short stories. An eclectic mix but with some that really resonated. There is a great ‘did it really happen?’ tale of a man who meets a speaking monkey. And several stories based on Murakami’s cultural and sporting likes: jazz, The Beatles, classical music, and baseball. Indeed, he made me go out and find a piece of music to listen to that I had never previously heard. You can read more about this collection on Wikipedia here.

Sustainability

Budgets for growth will destroy us all

Another big thing last week was the ‘mini-budget’. So many politicians are desperate to make their mark and can’t cope with their transience. So they feed us the drugs that make us feel good rather than the medicine that will make us better.

Our latest government gave us tax cuts that will benefit the rich. The aim is to get growth by encouraging people, especially obscenely rich ones, to spend money. Setting aside trickle down economics has been shown to be bollocks, this is a budget to destroy the planet.

Growth itself does not have to be bad. If you invest in things like insulating homes, renewable energy, recycling, repairing, healthcare, clean transport, preserving biodiversity, and carbon capture tech then you can have growth and tackle climate change. But if you just let people spend, spend, spend so you end up with more deforestation, carbon, plastic shit imported from China, etc. Especially when rich people mainly save or spend on stupid things like aeroplanes, cars, TVs, drugs, etc.

Extinction Rebellion fighting climate change

Family and Friends

Mum on her holidays

Me and my brother packaged mum off to her best mate’s for a week. My brother drove her down on Monday and brought her back on Sunday. Mum’s got into a position where she is very comfortable to just stay at home. Nothing wrong in that but we all sometimes need a push to get us out of our comfort zone for our own benefit – variety is the spice of life.

A weekend with Dave

Spent more time than normal with Dave at the weekend as there was no mum to stay over with. And enjoyable to go out for dinner on Saturday night. Overall, so nice to have a do-nothing weekend together for a change. Especially as it felt like we hadn’t seen a lot of each other during the week. He was busy on various days and I was ill.

A friend and a rescue plant

Because of the cold that hit me, that really took out any plans for meeting up with friends. Didn’t feel like going out (rather preferring to stay in and sleep) plus didn’t want to infect anyone else. Did go with Dave to meet our friend Patrick on Sat morning for coffee. A nice walk and I found an abandoned spider plant on the way which I took home to nurse back to health. I love rescuing plants.

Life is transience but it is important to have nice things in it and enjoy those things. No matter how small and as often as possible.

Spider plant

Personal Development / Art and Culture

Duolingo

Haven’t written about either of these themes recently. However, the transience of life means they are both important things to me. I am carrying on with my daily Duolingo language learning focusing on Spanish although didn’t happen on Thursday because I felt so bad. But really need to step this up and I will do when I semi-retire.

German drama

As will my engagement with Art and Culture. Did catch a German drama on BBC4 on Saturday night – ‘KaDeWe’. A fictional programme about the famous Berlin department store during the inter-war period. Really enjoyed it though setting some of the period scenes in the modern city confused me; however, Dave loved this. Probably also need to catch up with the much acclaimed ‘Babylon Berlin’.

Apart from being great TV, I always think these dramas will improve my German. But then I realise I remember so little and rely on reading the English sub-titles.

Big German dept store

The Week Ahead

  • Hopefully I’ve fully shifted the cold and can try to get things a bit more back to normal. And relative normality would be good after 3 very eventful and sad weeks.
  • Two work days and three non-work days meaning three gym trips with luck
  • Still reading ‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead on my kindle; a great book but long. And I’ve also started to read the latest by Patrick Gale ‘Mother’s Boy’ which is also a good one.
  • Following my flu jab the previous week, next week it’s time for my Covid booster

And Finally…

Robert Reich tweet

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