Try Not to Forget How Fragile Things Are

Mon 9 – Sun 15 Jan 2023

One of the disciplines that writing a regular blog gives is the need to find a theme to centre things around. What has been the key feature of my life in the week just gone? For my previous blog, it was about the ever present need to try to make sense of life (read it here). The key theme for the week just gone was awareness of how fragile things can be. It’s not the most optimistic thing to talk about but that may well be fashioned by the gloom and rain of January.

Fragile is both bad and good

Inevitably we think that being fragile is a bad thing. And one can’t underestimate the fragility of things such as health, finances, jobs, relationships. When these things shatter then the impact on our lives can be massive.

But bad things can also be fragile. These can change and that is a good thing. I never forget how quickly communism collapsed in the late eighties. It was only then we realised how fragile was the economy and political system of the Eastern Bloc. Perhaps evil regimes like those in Russia, China, and the Middle East will ultimately be just as fragile in the future.

But, overall, I think my view is that we need to be aware of how fragile good things in our life can be. That’s definitely been reinforced by my reading this week. And the lives of those around me. So let’s make the most of good health, family, friends, and when times are good. As these things won’t last forever. So enjoy them whilst you can, make them last as far into the future as possible, and plan for once things have changed.

Alternative pic of older person

Health and Efficiency

Weight

Really good news: my weight is down to around just under 13 stone and 9 pounds. That’s getting on for about half a stone since mid-Dec. I’m as light as I was about 18 months ago. I feel like I have travelled back in time. The main factor has been my dodgy stomach recently. I haven’t eaten much as I have felt nauseous. And, generally, I don’t feel hugely hungry.

But there is a little bit of me that worries. Is this rapid weight loss a sign of anything? I’ve still got an unpleasant feeling in my stomach. I am definitely thinking that if I carry on losing weight at this rate and my stomach discomfort doesn’t settle down then I must go and see my GP once I return from holiday.

man weighing himself

Gym

It’s so good that I am able to get to the gym more regularly. Indeed, I had to renew my annual gym membership last week which was a significant hit to my fragile finances. But it had to be done. Managed to get to the gym 3 times last week. Good though had planned for 4 times. Monday came and my stomach still felt very fragile so I took a recovery day-off.

Obviously I won’t be able to attend the gym forever. So enjoy it whilst I can. Perhaps one day health issues will mean it needs to be curtailed. I’m also mindful that my privately owned gym could close one day. I do wonder how things are with the rising energy costs. If my gym closed then I could move to another. But I like my current one and I don’t think I will ever get another that, if I time it right, then I have my own private exercise space.

7 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £71 per session

Curls

The future

I would still like to go swimming again and I am going to use my holiday to practice in the hotel pool. Then think about if I go more regularly in London when I come back. One of my main worries is the number of ear infections I used to get.

I’ve also got an idea to start a ‘couch to 5K’ regime whilst on holiday as my means to getting back to more regular jogging.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

Lewis Carroll

Books and Reading

Tiepolo Blue‘ by James Cahill

Apparently one of the best books Stephen Fry has ever read. That does say something about the level of pretentiousness to it. However, it is very good particularly for a first novel. And it reinforces the fragile nature of life. It’s the story of an art historian whose life in academia ends.

He leaves the beautifully cloistered world he lived in and everything comes tumbling down. Is it a story that says be happy with what you have as you don’t realise how fragile it is? But then there is an argument that the anti-hero of the novel only really learns to live and experience life when he stops being cloistered and safe.

Great characters and their relationships are fascinating – we can all empathise with them. The people who seem to stand above and pull strings. Those who trust in others, often naively. The young people experiencing life and having no fear. And the careerists who position themselves whilst actually having limited skills.

In a way it’s an evolutionary novel in that it says those who survive are not simply the biggest, strongest or fastest but those who can adapt to new situations the best.

Ypres after the first bombardment

The Betrayals‘ by Bridget Collins

Another beautiful other worldly novel like ‘Tiepolo Blue‘ though this is set in an alternative timeline. I read Collins’ previous novel ‘The Binding’ which is a fantastic book with a queer storyline. I looked forward to ‘The Betrayals‘ but felt a bit intimidated by its volume. However, this should not put you off, it is an easy read.

Collins creates another world that is something like 1930s Germany. And it’s set in a boarding school akin to Hogwarts (what is the obsession of contemporary literature with magical boarding schools?) and with a mysterious religion without Christianity being the dominant ideology. I don’t want to give the plot away but it’s one with various unexpected linkages.

And yet it reinforces my belief that we need to appreciate how fragile things often are. Weimar Germany was a beacon of progress but cracked apart under the Nazi onslaught. The past isn’t always what we think it is, the present and the future can easily be changed, people cannot always be trusted or relied on.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Current reading

Couple of books on the go:

  • Still reading the autobiography of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Fascinating account of his father’s life during the Mao Zedong period. The brutal horror of the revolutionary promise betrayed and the fragile nature of everyday ‘normality’.
  • Started ‘The Bedlam Stacks‘ by Natasha Pulley. A contemporary author I really rate. This is another semi-fantasy novel – real life but in another timeline.

Art and Culture

‘Titane’

Finally made it back to the cinema on Friday 13th to catch this wonderful modern horror film. Loved the Belgian director’s first movie ‘Raw’ about cannibalism. ‘Titane’ is a brilliant movie but prepare to be shocked and go with the flow rather than trying to work out how it is all happening. There is more detail here.

What is it about? Basically a young girl has a titanium plate fitted in her head after a car accident. As she grows up, she becomes very intimately linked to cars. Many people die and a father who has lost his son believes that he has found him. This may be a bit cryptic but I don’t want to give the plot away.

What does it all mean? Perhaps sometimes we shouldn’t always search for meaning but rather just enjoy the experience. I would suggest that there is an element of saying don’t forget how fragile life is. It can change so easily and is very difficult to get back to good times once they are gone. Plus can things ever be the same again no matter how hard we try? Ultimately everything is always different.

Family and Friends

Parents and siblings

Family isn’t always there and so we should appreciate the good times. Dave’s mum continues to be OK (she’s always happy if you give her a pile of scratchcards LOL). Mine is also doing OK and it was really nice to catch up with my brother at the weekend. We don’t always see eye-to-eye but it’s interesting to hear about his life and he is very funny.

Nissa

Really nice to have a catch-up with my old job-share colleague on Thursday. She’s had another baby but not been very well. And she’s moved out of London. We haven’t spoken for months and we could only do a phone call as I was walking about and Nissa was looking after her baby. But great to find out how both our lives have been and our plans for the future. There is something really lovely about reconnecting with good friends from different times.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

Dalai Lama

Sustainability

If there is one thing that is fragile then it is our environment. We as humans are trashing it all the time by simply over-consuming. We use too many resources, produce to excess, and have created a throwaway society literally built on (landfill) waste. Keeping the global temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius looks increasingly unlikely.

The throwaway society

I continue to try to offload stuff in my life. Took a load of books up to the Notting Hill Exchange on Tuesday. And also took a large amount of stuff (especially recent magazines) to mine and Dave’s favourite charity shop. The less we carry then the less we have to worry about. And when things are fragile, it’s often a good idea to travel light and be able to move fast.

The Week Ahead

  • Holidays are coming ! My last full week before me and Dave are off to our beloved Gran Canaria. Time to start thinking about what to pack for our fortnight away.
  • Should be able to get to the gym 4 times next week though must make sure I don’t push myself too far in each session
  • Will be meeting with Phyllis for lunch on Tuesday and should meet Patrick at the weekend. Must set up friend meetings for when I get back from Gran Can.
  • Me and Dave are taking my mum out for lunch on Wednesday
  • Hope to get to the cinema again and should visit some galleries and museums soon
  • Carry on with my language learning on Duolingo which continues to happen nearly every day

And Finally…

Don't believe everything billionaires tell you

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