More curation for the blip - The Times Sept 23rd 2023

 It's all about faith, but not the religious kind.

         * Walking over Helvellyn - nature notes - Melissa Harrison.

The challenge of hill walking - '...  a landscape resistant to human influence provides a kind of bellicosity, a refusal to feel impotent, diminished or small. Yet it's exactly that feeling that I seek out in high places. I find it deeply relieving to be reminded of the insignificance of my part in this vast, ancient and astonishing world.'

         * Space Odyssey - Leading ac - Dust and rock extracted from an asteroid are a precious scientific resource (the trip to Bennu 2011-2023).

'The mission is not only an immense achievement in itself, by yielding information on the existence of conditions for life, it makes humanity more at home in the inconceivable al vastness of the universe.'

       I feel exactly this watching and listening to Brian Cox - it's too hard to explain, just switch him on and try and grasp a light year or two.

Curation for the blip - mostly The Times newspaper this last weekend.- Sept 16th

* Am I the only one with mild paranoia?

Matthew Parris - For good Darwinian reasons something within all of us keeps a wary eye out for the false friends, concealed danger, for persons unknown who are trying to compromise us, poison us, steal our secrets or undermine our security.

This seems slightly over the top, a bit serious for individual suspiciousness. But it's about.

* Dominic Sandbrook - 'the country is broken' - Declinism - apparently we've been here before on several occasions, often following a good spell of Tory government, such as 'you've never had it so good' Harold Macmillan in the 60s and John Major in the 90s. John Smith in 1993 said there was no suprise that hotels were falling into the sea (a Scarborough reference). Today I think broken is global, but there is no need panic. We've won two world wars, live longer healthier lives and have more opportunities.

* Professor Arthur C. Brookes, renowned social scientist who's baseline mood defaults to gloom and anxiety. He has pioneered a course on 'Leadership and Happiness' which worked for him. Natural positive and negative settings exist together in various proportions. High doses of both is the mad scientist, two lows is a judge, otherwise cheerleaders and poets. They are present in family, friends, work and faith and comprise enjoyment, satisfaction (accomplishing goals) and purpose (a sense of direction). Faith is not religious, but more a recognition of our place in a much bigger picture than ourselves. Social media and the pandemic have reduced human connection (eye to eye, touch). He goes on to detail some tactics, but they have mostly been covered in pieces dealing with successful ageing.

So, a bit of 'same old'. Don't expect to be happy all the time. Live with unhappiness, it can be a source of energy. Think of it as work in progress.

This oldie has a blip - Sept 2023

 A blip meaning a flare in anxiety and a downturn in mood. No photographs because I couldn't be bothered, despite successful visits to Butlins, Skegness with the family and Bridlington with the choir.

It's been on its way since lockdown 2022. Difficulty reading for pleasure, poor concentration and not enjoying much other than beer. 

Erickson suggests over 65 is a time for reflection 'if we see our lives as unproductive, feel guilt about our past, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.'

... 'feelings of fear and dread about their mortality.'

Late life is thus characterized by both satisfaction and despair that must be balanced.

All very well, but it's more complex. I have lived with anxiety/high funtioning and generalised (described alsewhere) for ever. An angry father back from the war, a bright older brother. I did well on reflection. Good at sports, very good at medicine and always open to new learning and experience. Grumpiness and mild paranoia kept me solidly on the ground. So professionally reasonable and socially inept - I've lived with this and it's okay now, not at the time. Try to live in the present, enjoy nature and take exercise, keep friends close and have a hobby (singing) are all part of my lifestyle and went well, up until earlier this year.

So what's gone wrong? Lockdown I've mentioned. A mild covid episode. Hernia surgery left me with a lower abdomen resembling a ploughed field. It has also changed the signals for when I need the loo. My 75th birthday came and went - geriatric now and aware of things wearing out. When things go wrong it's tiresome and time-consuming to put right, for instance losing the internet on my so-called smart TV. There is a background feeling of most things being broken - natural disasters, climate change, AI, racial injustice, cost of living, wars. Some call resulting tiredness and lack of motivation a spiritual PTSD. Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives whilst I'm 'In the sidings' to quote Louis Killen. And finally an alcoholic son with dreadful behaviour - not all the time.

Everyday stuff can also be huge things to achieve. Best example is driving, brought on by more and more bigger cars which take up more and more parking spaces. The garden is hard work, ivy especially. Doing the budget, getting a will (third), keeping up with photos and writing take a big effort when I'd rather be solving the crossword. Reading still difficult otherwise. Helping out, housework and cooking.

Keep up with the recommendations. I have another - do things in small bite pieces and pat your back when it's done.

The tides might be a helpful metaphor - regular ebb and flow. At worst flood tide is cataclysmic and all hope is lost during the ebb. Yet the daily recurrence provides another chance, just as good, coming soon.

And, there are a lot of people a lot worse off.