...something many of us strive for – that the work we spend large portions of our daily lives sweating over has some intrinsic meaning and satisfaction beyond being a mechanism to pay our bills and put food on the table. That it is part of thriving not just surviving. I've been thinking about this on and off recently as my current job comes to an inflection point, and I've settled on a number of lenses through which to view this:
Over the last month my weight loss and running have both plateaued... but that's OK! If you had told me at the start of the year I'd loose 14 ± 2 lbs in 3-4 months and be able to run 5k again I'd have been a little doubtful but very happy! I feel more like myself again on the physical side for the first time in years and that has a positive knock-on for the mental/emotional wellbeing side too.
We completed the UK census last week. Online – nice and easy. This once-a-decade occurrence goes back a couple of hundred years, with its roots even further back in the Domesday Book. There are rumblings that it may be the last one, with manual entries by each household giving way to administrative data gathered by the government in other ways. This might make economic sense and be more efficient but I for one like participating in a societal ritual going back that far. It feels very civic rather than invasive, whereas combining and combing my data from different official sources feels less so.
A confession – I'm rubbish at taking notes! The idea of something like a Digital Garden or the Zettelkasten Method “second brain”, as has been mentioned by other bloggers, sounds rewarding but the discipline and effort involved is massively intimidating... and if my note-taking history is anything to go by, unrealistic for me!
I just read Scott Nesbitt's latest Weekly Musing, and it definitely struck a chord with me. He was writing about embracing your inner geek but in a way that feels right for you. My career in academia has given me the opportunity to research specialist subjects to the edge of current knowledge and beyond, which in many ways is making the inner geek an outer geek. However, what is really fun is indulging my inner geek in an amateur rather than professional fashion. There is a heady freedom in this, as it allows me to pursue an interest flexibly, or drop it when my focus changes.
I have the apartment to myself this afternoon, The Canadian and the babe having gone off to see our friends and their little one now that we can resume our social bubbles here in Wales. What to do, what to do?! Well, I'm kicking off by sitting on the rocking chair with a mug of black coffee, my Linux Star Lite laptop in my lap, blogging away and listening to Whitesnake's Greatest Hits album on the CD player. Old-School I know – but there is still something rewarding and pure about listening to an album you physically own from start to finish.
You know the scenario. You're sitting (on the couch, in bed, on a train, wherever!) and find yourself between tasks. Next thing you know, some indeterminate period of time has passed as you use your smartphone to check social media / surf the web / play a game. No big deal really but stop for a minute – cumulatively, how much of our lives do we now spend mindlessly doing this instead of, well, pretty much anything else that could enrich us?!
As I've got older, I've come to realise more and more the importance of managing expectations. Of work/career goals and timelines. Of personal and professional relationships. Of sports teams. Of that new movie or piece of technology that's being released. Of government and political leaders. But most of all, of myself.
How much information do I need on a daily basis about this global pandemic? At the start of it all, I was following stats from John Hopkins several times a day. Checking news websites. Debating pros and cons of the different response options from different countries. Railing against the apparent sheer stupidity and ignorance of certain politicians and swathes of the public. Not everyone has the same level of education but distrust of experts, buying into conspiracy theories, and wilfully harmful spinning of facts to fit political and other world-views and narratives in the name of “freedom of expression” seems, to me, just plain wrong.