Every year around this time I take a look back at what's happened over the last 12 months. Where did I go and what did I do? Am I moving forward? Or are things staying the same?
Last year I was probably sitting in the same apartment living room, carving out the same time to reflect on the same questions. To set the scene: I'm still on the futon I swore I'd replace with a real couch, bundled in a blanket I crocheted half of before it started falling apart because I am terrible at paying attention to fine detail and am generally not good with my hands. I'm drinking coffee from Little Zelda's because even though I buy my own beans I'd still rather pay $3 to have someone make it for me. Also, once again, we're out of milk.
I used to think in order to truly progress in a year I need to go from physical point A to physical point B.
I ask myself constantly: When will you finally leave New York? When will you actually be a fast runner and graduate from an 8/min pace? When will you truly "be known" in your career? When will you start writing your book, meditate ten easy minutes most mornings, learn guitar, and fully understand what it means when Betterment emails you, "You've received dividends, and we're putting them to work!"
I'm in the same physical space. I still don't fully understand Roth IRAs. I haven't picked up a new instrument, and I certainly haven't packed up my bags. (Although due to a bed bug scare last winter I threw out most my things, so now I own a handful of clothes, four forks, and zero pieces of furniture, making me VERY mobile.)
And yet ... what a year it has been. I've realized perhaps it's not all about moving on to new projects and accomplishing lofty goals. Instead, there is something to say about emotional growth and becoming more confident in who I am and what I value.
2015 was a year of figuring some of that stuff out. I feel like I kind of have a foundation. I can better articulate the things that provide meaning to my life. I'm by no means settled (terrible word) and my curiosity is still absurdly out of control (I want to climb Kilimanjaro tomorrow! go to the moon on Thursday!). BUT ... I have a better idea of what fulfills me versus what simply appeases me.
I. For starters, this year reinforced how running is truly a part of me. It's like I have eyes, elbows, a social security number, and the responsibility to run. I guess I've always known this to an extent, but it wasn't until I faced two back-to-back injuries, and almost saw the NYC marathon slip away from me, did I realize how much the sport is part of my identity. Running New York and feeling strong for the entire 26.2 miles makes me hungry to try longer distances, and to maybe care less about time, too. I used to think an ultra was never in my running repertoire, but who knows what 2016/7 will bring.
II. I did a lot of soul searching at my job. I came to the huge realization that I don't think I could ever see myself working on the for-profit side of things again.. ever ever. As cool as I think technology startups are, there will always be a platform/tool/community that can replace the other platform/tool/community that is "changing the world." And as neat as it would be to one day work for REI or NIKE or whatever, I don't want to spend my days helping people spend their money on things we really just don't need. I do want to embrace the crazy luck of being born in middle-class America to do whatever I can to help empower other people who haven't been given the same opportunities as me.
III. Also, holy shit I need to be in nature more often. Being enveloped in the concrete jungle is literally wreaking havoc on my well-being. This year, I've had the luck of finding myself in some insane beauty; from South Asia to South America to the American Southwest, I buried myself in mountains.
IV. Speaking of travel: In one year I've endured 37 take offs and landings to take me around the world and back again. It's the most I've ever flown in my life. Oddly, my fear of flight has only gotten worse, to the point where I almost didn't step on my last flight to Nepal. This terrified me even more: that a fear could take away experiences that matter most to me. So I promised myself I will never let this fear stop me from doing the things I love most. (Unless of course I die in a plane crash, which is what I actually think is bound to happen to me soon, in which case I will no longer be able to travel.)
V. I miss playing music. One of the most unexpectedly amazing experiences of a trip to Nepal this fall was "being in a band." Me and two colleagues would take the jeep home after a long day at work, arrive home, tired, only to say "band practice at 7!" Our Phish-Neil Young-Campfire Songs-cover band will most likely never win a Grammy (never say never?) but the pure joy we all got from practicing in the woods and on rooftops, the waxing moon pouring light onto our instruments, reminded me of the power of playing.
VI. I've made more movements on the writing front. Building this site was a good first step. My old blog was kinda this conglomeration of heart-felt pieces mixed with "here's what I did this weekend!" Which is and was fine. Now I don't write as often, but I put more energy into what I put down. Similarly, this year reinforced that writing is the medium I feel most comfortable communicating in. I love the idea of having a story in my head and a blank page in my lap. The challenge of mapping out how I'm going to put certain thoughts together, how to rearrange paragraphs, and how to craft the perfect sentence, is something I think I'm pretty good at.
VII. I loved hard this year. I thought my life was truly shifting in unspoken ways, giving me the physical point A --> B move I was looking for. With hindsight, I have nothing but gratitude for my experiences being with a great person in a long-distance relationship. There were so many nuggets of beauty in there. It ended pretty terribly, but I've come out better. I've learned this whole one-partner-forever thing is obviously an option, but it isn't the only one. With love, you need to be present.
VIII. The funniest thing I realized is I went "out" to maybe...ten bars in all of 2015? And stayed "out" past midnight...five times? I value sleep and I'm actually 87 years old. I want to wake up early on Saturdays, read the NYTimes, and go for a run versus be hungover. I've accepted the fact I will probably never enter that hardcore party phase. I thought one day it would come ... but it looks like the only real binge drinking I'll be doing here on out is by myself, on planes. #Party
IX. Last, misc. learnings / things that have changed my life:
- Using a standing desk has transformed how my body feels
- Using a crockpot has transformed how my bank account (and freezer) looks
- The Gmail app is really fantastic. Did anyone else not know this was a thing?
- My apartment will never get enough natural light for a tree to stay alive. Natural light is really important to me
- Chicken mole tacos are my favorite. I need to eat more meat in general
- I can get up, shower, and leave for work in 15 minutes
- The guy who works at the bodega next to my apartment will give you a free banana if you thank him
- Victor, our super, likes his coffee black. I prefer whole milk
- Haruki Murakami, George Saunders, and Chris Thile have all made my life better through words
And..that's it I think. Here's to even less bars, probably more planes, maybe a 50K, and definitely more mountains in 2016. Sending love -