Now, this is going to be a very different sort of post to the usual nonsense that appears on GofaDM. It will be unusually serious and some of the protagonists will be readily identifiable – so it may not stay “up” for very long (like me, GofaDM is no longer in the first flush of youth, or even of middle-age).
It is “on brand” in that it is about me (obvs) and an attempt to use a blog post to work an idea through: though usually the destination is something that can only very loosely be defined as a conclusion (but is more normally a weak, over-worked pun).
In three weeks time, I should be on the island of Lundy with a bunch of friends. It is a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years – though have discovered that it lies rather further to the west than I had imagined – and my accommodation is already paid for. I’m sure that I will have an amazing time if I go and am only slightly nervous that people who are used to seeing me in small doses will be trapped with me for a long weekend in a single building on a small island: however, I think we can be reasonable sure that I will not run amok with a blade (there are no certainties…). As regular readers may have surmised, I seem to have developed some sort of fear of missing out and not going does feel like I may miss out on an important episode in the continuing drama of my life. However, once I arrive on the island on Friday morning there is literally no way off until Monday morning.
Over the summer, both of my parents had fairly serious strokes – in one case, the hospital had the R or DNR conversation with my sister – and have been rather regular visitors to their local hospitals ever since: finally getting some serious value for money from all their NI and tax contributions over the years. I have no reason to believe that either are likely to have a serious or terminal incident in the weekend that I am planning to be away. There is also very little that I can do if such an incident were to occur: let’s face it, I dropped biology in the third form and struggle to successfully apply a plaster to my own fingers. However, it is not impossible that a window might exist, had I remained on the mainland UK, whereby I could make back it between the start of an incident and its terminal conclusion: possibly by use of an expensive taxi ride through the night. This would clearly not be an option from Lundy: I am not that strong a swimmer…
I generally think of myself as a cold-hearted monster with the emotional maturity of a child. I have managed to fake my way through adulthood by learning how to emulate (to a somewhat convincing degree) the appearance of the emotional functioning of a normal (albeit perhaps towards one edge of that distribution) human adult. Nevertheless, I suspect that should I fail to be present to say goodbye purely because I’m off on an island having fun then there might be a degree of regret occasioned. Life does not have an Undo function (though I am planning to re-spawn) and some errors are unrecoverable.
This is one of an annoying class of problems that also affect my working life in modelling: of electricity wholesale markets rather than sexy kecks (though for some reason, the vast majority of ads being shown to me by the Facebook algorithm at present are of sexy kecks: I’m not sure who it thinks I am or why it has decided this is an area of interest, perhaps it is trying to suggest a change of career?). These are known as High Impact Low Probability (HILP) events and are a real pain to take into account: how high a cost should one incur to avoid something of very low (and generally impossible to accurately estimate) likelihood. At work, the stakes are generally measured in (somebody else’s) money but, in the case at hand, we are playing with potential higher and much harder to measure stakes. How robust am I emotionally? Will my mild(?) psycho/socio-pathy protect me?
Lundy and my friends will continue to exist into future years, I fondly like to imagine: though in the world’s current politically febrile climate one can no longer take these things for granted. Equally, my parents health is likely to remain uncertain and may continue to decline for many years yet. Is it reasonable or even practical, given that I do have to leave the mainland UK for work, for me to remain within a taxi ride of an East Sussex hospital on an indefinite basis? I am in life, generally, very risk averse which is probably impacting my thinking, possibly in an unhelpful way.
I have until Friday to decide or I shall experience a “no deal” option of my own, whereby the chance to go to Lundy will lapse. I am currently vacillating wildly between the two options: last night I had decided absolutely and irrevocably that I would not go to Lundy. Writing this post, I am sensing that my internal quorum has shifted significantly towards going.
To try and break this deadlock, I have fished Gerd Gigerenzer down from my bookshelf in the hope that he, or perhaps learning some more of the key statistically techniques to use when evaluating HILPs will provide the insight I need (I’m starting with the Blackett Review). A decision will be made and time will tell how easy it is to live with…