Scaffolding and the circle of life



I walked past this building the other day as I do most days.  It used to be a big old house before the developers knocked it down to rebuild it into something else. Somewhere along the way the renovation has stopped and it’s been left in mid build.  As I walked past I thought – that’s what I feel like, a bit empty and in need of a rebuild yet held together by support.

I read a couple of blogs recently that resonated with this.  The first was about films being a good illustration of how life often emerges from the middle. We see an opening scene that starts at some point in a character’s life, often we begin in their middle and we go from there full of anticipation about what we are going to find out. It doesn’t matter where they started because we are engaging with them wherever they are now.

The second was about pressing the reboot button like you do on a computer, just a soft reboot to make small changes where things are no longer working for you.  It doesn’t have to be major, just a few adjustments, keeping the core functionality in place.

I like both of these ideas they strike me as an easy and engaging way to think about how we can choose to do things differently or change, even in really small ways.

I think when you get to middle age things naturally start changing around you, you can’t stop it and you have to adapt.  You lose people, age gaps become a little more apparent, priorities start to shift, time starts to race. I see this building as a representation of this – a down to earth gritty reality of the circle of life without the Disney sentimentality.  The emptiness that happens due to the losses and changes and the need to rebuild, reboot and adapt to these losses and changes. Sometimes the adaptations may need to be significant and sometimes tiny, but either way you have to keep developing and adapting to remain relevant, engaged and living.  With any luck the scaffolding you surround yourself with will keep everything solid enough to get through these changes and provide the confidence to reboot or restart your film.

It can feel like a long process, every time I walk past this building now it makes me question how far I’ve come in my own adjustments since I walked past it last time.  Sometimes I feel stuck and empty, other times I feel like I’ve secured a new brick or two and sometimes I think I could even take down some of the scaffolding. If this building ever gets finished I wonder what it will look like and how far I’ve got.

ps – the blog is worth a read.

Loss and Life


Arnie at bozzie

Getting older is tough in ways that I hadn’t really bargained for, I’ve thought about running out of time to do things or achieve things but time will run out on so many aspects of our lives.

Over the past year I’ve been trying to become more acquainted with death, not in a morbid way but because it should be better ingrained in our everyday living.  You could even say I’ve worked quite hard at this, through attending a course about ‘How to face Death’ (another great School of Life Course) which despite the title was one of the most uplifting days I’ve experienced.  I’ve read about Death Cafes and Death Conferences – neither of which I’ve attended yet – but it’s on my ‘worth considering’ list. A few months ago I began work with a local hospice as a volunteer bereavement counsellor because it felt the right path for me and I felt strong enough to do this.

In the space of a few short weeks I’ve lost my dog and my Dad – the impact of both is very very tough. I’m writing this 2 days before my Dad’s funeral and so I’ve been reflecting on our lives as a family and remembering and thinking a lot about what death means and how we can or can’t prepare ourselves for this inevitable event.

I’m glad I started to engage with ‘Death’ before my losses, before I even thought I may have these losses. Maybe without realising I had started to prepare myself.  In middle age – you can’t avoid losses, they start to add up, that’s life, it’s hard, but it’s life.

Experiencing death and grief is never going to be easy, it’s one of the hardest things to bare but the conversations need to be had. However difficult it is, I want to continue to engage with death – I’m not sure how to live without it.