Remona Aly
Monday 31 July 2023 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

The calculator, constancy and change

Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show

Calculators, constancy and change


Sitting on my mum’s desk is a relic from 1985 which she will use to the hilt for her company’s accounts. It’s a brick of a calculator, the kind that sounds like a military drill with every entry, the sum of which she will then pen into her Dickensian style bookkeeping. When I suggest, “Why not try an online spreadsheet and save yourself time?” – she looks at me with disdain. For digital ease is not for my mother, nay, it is for lesser mortals in lack of skill sets.

Modern tech and comms is just not her thing. If mum gets a message on her mobile from friends or family, she’ll get back to you within three to five working days, as she’ll write a response on paper first, reluctantly type it out, complain that no one calls and that the internet is the devil’s work. All because my mum is not fond of that pesky thing called change.

When I was younger, I hungered for adventure. Heart racing at the thrill of the unexpected, I’d go on trips that had no plans, try out dates that drew wild cards.

But when the unpredictable started to throw punches, I began to retreat and seek comfort in constancy.

While the familiar might be the old jumper you just can’t throw away, I reckon change can be an opportunity to wear your life in beautifully unpredictable ways.

I once wanted to settle safely into what I thought would be my forever job, but leaving it led me to grow my writing in ways I never expected. When I’ve anxiously pushed myself towards new experiences, it’s unveiled perspectives and potential I didn’t dream possible.

Even while it feels like change can be daunting, uncertain and risky, it can also carry the promise of unfolding the most dazzling moments of life.

The 14th century Persian Muslim poet Hafez, said, “How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of Light against its being; otherwise we all remain too frightened.”

So I’ll revisit the fear that hovers between routine and the unknown, and try to find ways to bloom through each new variation. I just need to convince mum to set aside her ancient calculator.

To listen, click here Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show