Thursday, February 26, 2015

My legacy

As a deep thinker, an over thinker, and someone who obsesses about some very strange things at times, I have come to realise that one thing bugs me over and over. My legacy!

I recently blogged about dying, cheerful I know, but it was on my mind, so I put it out there. In that piece I questioned what it was all about. Is death to be feared, or lived for? When we are gone, what is left, and what difference does our passing make to everyone else.

Having lost quite a few friends over the years, as well as some good acquaintances, its quite easy for me to make this next observation. Some people I have known who have died rarely ever cross my mind. Other however come into my thoughts on an almost daily basis. Not as sadness, but as memories of times gone by, thinking how a certain person would have liked whatever it is I'm doing at that moment, or just missing them for a moment.

In reality, I'm sure we all strive to be the latter. I know I do. I think I actually fear just being forgotten. I know I have shared some very special moments with some amazing people, and hope already that I have left my mark in life, at least in my own generation. I hope that I have done enough in life to generate a huge amount of 'do you remember when we' type conversations, as I have done about friends who have passed.

But there is a bone of contention in there, and one that doesn't sit well with me. My true legacy.
I am 42 years old now, far from old, but certain opportunities in life have reached a point of no return now. Choosing to have a child now, the primeval instinct of the human race, is quite a stretch in my world now, and not a choice I would make. Like a woman with her biological clock ticking away, I share that feeling of a door closing.
Of course, I have a child, or should I say, I fathered a child who is now a 20 year old woman.

It doesn't get to me too often, not something that I dwell on too much. I know in the years I have been absent she has been well looked after and loved. Raised well, and strives to make great academic achievements. I would say I'm really proud, but then that is a little glory grabbing really as its none of my doing.
Or is it? On a gross and scientific level, I do have something to be proud of. My genes after all went into her genetic makeup, she is 50% me, and while one part of the biological equation seems to have forgotten I am quite intelligent, thankfully her brain hasn't, and a part of me is indeed responsible for her success.

The truth is, my legacy as it stands is in 2 very separate pieces.
On the one hand, another generation has a life, will out live me, and a bloodline will continue. Regardless of my role and presence in the past 16 years, without me, there would be no her. Someone else maybe, but not her. Regardless of our interactions in years to come, her wishes to know me or involve me, she is my legacy. Like it or not.

Then the second part is the lives I have shared. The memories of the people I hold dearest to me, and who I have shared moments of happiness, sadness and of course stupidity with. A part of my life I have full control over, decisions I have made, and futures I have shaped. I hope I have done enough in those peoples lives to be remembered until their final days too, and for the stories of our adventures together to be told for decades to come.

Do you strive for a legacy? Or just take each day as it comes, and not care about what happens when you are gone?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

In the blink of an eye...

I have blogged about this quite a lot over the years, but from time to time the urge to try and connect with my true feelings on the matter resurfaces, and eats away at me for a bit. Like now. For some reason, after watching the scene from a TV drama, the matter of death comes flooding back.

February is always a pretty dark month for me anyway, even with the sunshine on top, below the surface bubbles a little anxiety, and I guess a little sadness. For years it was about my daughter. How dare I celebrate a birthday without her in my life. Especially with hers being just a few short days before my own. But as the years have passed, the reasoning has changed, and possibly to more morbid reasoning.

Feb 13th 2008, my mum came to me and told me she thought she might have cancer. My birthday that year (the next day) was spent at the doctors, first getting her an appointment for that day, and then being there while the doctor examined her and confirmed she very much had breast cancer. And a long journey began.
With her 70th birthday just around the corner the appointments started, and a few days after her 70th we went the hospital where I was called in to the consult room and asked to reason with her by the specialist. Having examined her she had cancer in both breasts, and was refusing ANY treatment. By the time we left she was open to the idea.

After a long fight, and some true highs, on August 5th 2011 mum finally passed away. Sitting by her side, watching her breathing become laboured, before finally exhaling for the last time, it was quite a surreal moment to watch your only parent die before your eyes. Thankfully, it was a rare occasion that myself and my sister were with her, with no kids etc. So part of me feels she found peace in that moment, and chose it herself.
Medically the morphine inhibited her breathing, and her already weak body gave out. Either way, she went peacefully and with dignity, just as she would have wanted.

Mum's passing is probably one of the most profound for me, as you would expect, but the list of people I have lost in all manner of ways is just too long, and one that haunts me every time I recall who, how and when.

In fact the above is the reason I am writing this now, as another year ticks around for me, and I turn 42 now, I look back at the long list of friends who have not even made it this far in life. Ill health, accidents, and suicide, has taken some of my closest friends over the years, all my junior. I said many years ago, back in my twenties, that I would be dead before I was 40. However at that time I really don't think I had given the thought of death much real consideration. Greatly unaffected by it at that point, it was just brave to talk trash about death, but as the years have passed by, it means more.

Given it can come in so many ways, never knowing what the cause will be. So many lose their lives at the hands of others, through no fault of their own. Accidents on the UK motorways today are a great example of this.
Take a look at the statistics for a moment. In the last week of January this year, 12,900 people in the UK died. That's 1,842 people a day or 76 people an hour. More than one a minute.
Now of course yes a lot of these are natural causes, illness etc, but what difference does that make? Mum knew she was going for 3 years, but still left 2 kids, 5 grand kids and her sister all with a hole in their lives.

My point is, and its a very vague one, death is all around us, just around the corner, how many people in the UK alone have died in the time you have been reading this. How many families every hour begin the painful journey of letting someone go?

The age old question, are you scared of death? Well are you? I have thought about this over and over for years, and still can't make sense of my conclusions. Death itself is final, once its happened, its done with, for the deceased at least. Fear goes away, pain too, but for the families it is only just starting.
My feelings on it are maybe a little too rational for some to comprehend. In conversations I have had about it in the past, I have come out looking a little strange to say the least.
When I think about death, it makes me sad. I like being a part of peoples lives, I like making a difference, and creating memories with people. When I look back at people I have lost, its the memories which keep the person with us. The thought of that ending is sad for me. Just as it saddens me that I no longer have them in my life to enjoy their company and make more memories.
The cold harsh truth is though, we all move on. While we remember those we have lost, our lives continue and adapt. So to believe that our passing is anything but an event in our friends and loved ones lives, is to me at least, somewhat irrational.
That said, my take on death in general might not be what you would call the average or common perception.

The other part about dying which really sucks, is the future. The crazy and dynamic world we live in is constantly promising and making leaps forward, space travel, technology, health care etc. To think that at some point I will stop seeing these advances is one which actually saddens me deeply. Maybe its my techy geekiness that drives that emotion. Maybe its my detachment from others around me which makes me feel this way. Grasping for something to hold on to and be relevant to me.

So am I scared of death, and the event it is? Hard to say, I have never been close enough to know the answer to that. My rational is simple, I can't control it, I am not the master of my final act, and whatever lifes plan is for me, I have to suck it up. Its nice to imagine it will be painless, but not for me. More for those around me. I don't want a wake of sadness left behind me, and I guess that is one of the reasons I try to be so open about my thoughts and feelings. I can't say another word when I am gone, so would love to think that in my ramblings both verbally and written, that people can find the answers to their questions. Who I care about, love, and my feelings on all aspects of life.

I like to think I am an open book, I encourage those in my life to challenge me, question me, and discover all they want to know on a daily basis. One day, the final day will come, and I hope dearly that I leave no confusion or unanswered questions behind. Until that day, I will keep throwing my thoughts out there, and try and make sure I have it all covered.
I do have a project I really must complete one day, one I have spoken of before. It has had many names, but 'If tomorrow never comes' seems the most prudent.

A frank summary of all things truly meaningful to me. Feelings, memories etc, which I would want those involved in it to know, just to confirm they know, and will forever know how I feel about them and our time together.

So, that's my thoughts for this Valentine's Day 2015, and of course my birthday.

Live every day like your last. Tell people how you really feel about them, and don't try and find the right time for things... It might never come, then it will never happen. Most of all, smile, and enjoy the gift of life you have, and spend it with people you care about.

Thanks for reading, sorry for the downer.

PS, some stats for those interested. A full breakdown of the 491,348 deaths in England and Wales in 2009 (yup almost half a million people in one year)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wow, I made it to week 5!

OK if I am totally honest with you all and myself of course, I really was expecting to pick up an injury or illness before getting this far. However I am super happy that I haven't. Even more delighted that I am still finding the motivation twice a day, six days a week to hit the home gym and bring the pain on. Certainly supercharged my body, and seems to have got some testosterone flowing too, but that's a different story, literally!

As the weeks have gone on, I have been careful to check back over my past weeks, and make changes where I see fit. Increasing weight, reps or sets. Dropping exercises which are starting to cause issues, and modifying where things can be improved. All in all, being my own boss, not being a slave to a routine laid out by someone else, is really working well for me. Didn't honestly think I had it in me in this day and age (getting on a bit, birthday in 9 days) but turns out I have.

My battle now, as I have said before is keeping the bull in the pen. Not unleashing the beast and pushing myself too far. Each day, as the strength grows, I know I can push and pull a little more, but am mindful of the purpose of it. In my 20's benching 3 plates a side was all about ego, numbers and bragging rights, now in my 40's its more about self preservation, so no need to go all out. But still important to be moving a worth while weight.

Dips for example, first couple of weeks, trying to get the strength to do them at all, then once I had it, found myself doing very untidy and rushed reps. High numbers , poor quality. Now, its lower numbers, slow and super clean, and boy can I feel the difference. Same can be said for a number of other exercises too. Writing my plans up on Sundays, its nice to read back and see my achievements, then see where I can raise the bar, and where I am at risk. Changing the movements slightly each week to keep it fresh. But still hitting the same groups.

Going for chest, back, shoulders, and arms, I have to say I feel great hugging myself lol. Sleeping and wrapping up in my own arms, there is a whole load of firmness and bulk now, and it feels egotistically great! Nothing like waking up aching, and thinking, I know what will make me feel better, a workout! Its a great stretch and warm up for the body in the mornings, doing the floor work, almost the perfect solution to a heavy weights workout the night before.

So on this slow, lazy morning, with a lay in, and no dog walks done (raining) I am about to hit the floor and wake my body up, then head off to get some work done on a tattoo I am in the process of getting done. Should make tonight's workout fun, being on my bicep and shoulder!

Right, so that's me, almost at the end of week 5, and no end in sight.
Weight loss and numbers wise, nothing amazing to report, but feeling great, and that's what its all about to me. Strangely got my upper abs just starting to break through and show, through a still rather podgy stomach.

Have a great day..... I will !