Weekly Blog 4 - Birthday privilege

— 4 minute read

It is a bit of a dreary Saturday morning but I am feeling upbeat because it is my birthday today. Not only that but since waking up I have been very productive - made and had breakfast, had a call with family in Buenos Aires, went for yoga, came back and finished a piece of work that had to be finished, and then a call with only Leo - and now I am here blogging until I have to leave for a lunch-tea-dinner marathon with a couple of close friends. Not a bad way to spend a birthday.

I’ve been taking stock on where I am in life, since a milestone is as good a time as any to do so. While being critical on how I have been spending time the last few weeks since Leo left (endless debauchery and unhinged screen time), I recognise that at a zoomed out level I am doing vey well.

If I compare myself now to where I thought I'd be when I was younger, it is surprising to note that I have exceeded my own expectations in becoming the type of person that I had aspired to be. Not so much a measure of success in terms of career (which I’d say what I’ve obtained is above average but nothing to shout home about, since I was already a senior researcher ten years ago), but how things have panned out in all areas of my life. Balanced development, so to speak.

Health maintenance, non-work pursuits, relationships. Playing the guitar, sewing, making drawings. Living seriously. Making plans. Trying and falling. Trying and failing. Trying and flailing.

I like the person who I’ve become. Quirks, neuroses, creaky body parts and all. And I like liking the person who I’ve become.

Second day, morning. It is the day after my birthday. The weather is still dreary. I still like myself. (Phew.)

Yesterday when hanging out with my oldest friends in the world we discussed what we’d like to do when we retire. As it turns out F&B is a big hit - one wanted to open an ice-cream shop so that she could scoop ice-cream all day, another one wanted to open a vegetarian zap fan stall, and another one wanted to sell tau foo fah (only options for topping are sugar syrup and brown sugar syrup, none of that fancy crushed peanuts nonsense).

I have no aspirations for F&B. Personally what I’d like, in the longer term, is not to retire but to have fewer days working, like a four day work week. Wouldn’t this be what the AI utopia would afford to us? More productivity and therefore fewer hours working? For this, I wish I were younger to be able to believe that bullshit. What is more likely to happen is the expectation to deliver more in less time and fewer resources, if history is of any indication. Joy to the world, AI is come!

In any case, the days unfold one at a time, AI or no. Grateful for friends (and hilariously elaborate surprise parties), for health, for water. Last week a pipe burst in the condo and the taps were dry for one day. This day in which I realised that it is a privilege to be able to do all the cleaning chores that I complain about, such as washing the dishes and laundering clothes.

Any problems in life we can trace to some sort of privilege, the root of which is the privilege of living. Office politics, privilege of working in an organisation. Bills, privilege of accessing services that you can pay for (imagine a life in which you can’t pay for water and electricity, which some people are living).

Growing old is a privilege. Staying young is delusional. With that I take a bow and continue with living my life until the next week.