Michael's Happenings

On Travel, Swimming, Getting Older, and New Music

It’s been a long time since I gave myself permission to write for myself. I’ve written for multiple others over the past several months – research reports, market analysis briefs, topic explorations, and even a slide deck for a virtual conference – but nothing for myself. At the end of each week when I write down my work hours by category in my journal, the “writing for me” column has been empty for too many weeks in a row, indicating a chain of non-performance that I’m keen to break this week. It’s time, I think, to start the writing chain again – word by word, page by page, week by week.

It’s weird not travelling. Actually, the right way to say that is, it’s weird not having the option to travel freely out of the country and across the world, even though I have no great nor pressing need to do so at the moment. My globe-trotting days ended abruptly in 2015, and while I have done a long-haul international trip most years since then, I haven’t gone back to the multiples per year I was doing from 2009. Almost all of my work these days is delivered remotely from my home office, and while that usually works well for me and my family, the prospect of an upcoming trip to meet clients or speak at a conference was deeply energising. I hated the jetlag but relished the quiet spaces that such travel afforded between engagements. Wandering through huge airports, eating breakfast at a hotel, and even watching the world zip by from a train all provided a different pace of life along with new experiences to think about. But now such excursions aren’t even practical, even if I had a pressing need to fly away.

The pool has been my lifesaver this year. Physically, I can swim further and faster than at the beginning of the year. Mentally, swimming length after length after length has afforded an uninterrupted quiet space to mull things over that I struggle to find in other locations. Sometimes the thing has been how to deal with a current client project. Other times it’s been a family matter. One recent mull-this-over-while-swimming episode was about how to solve a vehicle dilemma at home. It’s easier to get into the parallel flows of swimming and thinking when I’m not sharing a lane with another swimmer, as the constant need to track their whereabouts to avoid a crash inflicts a cognitive load that’s deducted from thinking space.

My friends are getting older, and by implication, so am I. Peter has just turned 58. Bruce was 60 earlier this month. Jon several years beyond that. Jim’s 91 next month. I haven’t yet hit the big 5-0, but it’s not that far off (and once it happens for me, it’s only a month before it happens for James and Jason too). But the maths works; friends I met 25+ years ago while I was in my 20s and they in their 30s are now approaching, reaching or surpassing 60. Dave at the swimming pool this morning – who’s 60 – said that when he hit 50 he noticed his energy levels took a massive dive. Thanks for the heads-up, Dave, and the “promising” outlook. Numbers that used to seem far off in the distance and old beyond old are coming nearer for some and in the rearview mirror for others. As my wife’s grandad likes to say, “If you keep waking up every morning, eventually you reach 100.” Given he’s now 102, the approach seems to work beyond that point too.

I happened upon a couple of pieces of classical music that I’ve had on endless repeat over the past couple of months. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major has been played the most, and Vivaldi’s Double Concertos the most often over the last few weeks. I’d heard a bit of the Bach one before but never sat to listen to the whole thing. Vivaldi’s Double, on the other hand, was entirely new to me. It’s amazing the breadth of music so easily available to all of us; we live richer than kings of a couple of centuries ago in terms of music, as they had to assemble an orchestra to get what we have but a few clicks away.

Categories: Michael's Happenings