2022 in closing…

This is a reflection post on my 2022. I started writing a similar one last year for 2021 but never finished it. Let’s see if this one turns out better.

I’ve said this before and will probably say it for many more years to come: “This year flew by so quickly!” Amidst loosening COVID-19 restrictions I continued to carry the forward momentum from 2021’s theme of “Reclaiming my life” which predictably kept me very busy. Time really does flow by when I’m deeply engaged in things that matter to me.

I had a theme this year too which I’ll get to that eventually. But first let’s start with:

2022 Highlights

Stop, Look, Go

My biggest takeaway for the year is re-visiting, re-evaluating and ultimately continuing to pursue something very important to me which I’ll call “The Project”. The pandemic (along with some personal situations) had all but stopped its forward momentum to the point where I’d forgotten about it; my hands were full addressing issues both important and immediate.

But at the tail end of 2021 I was suddenly reminded of The Project and resolved to spend 2022 looking back into it. The plan was to spend some time window-shopping rather than buying because I wanted to learn what’s now become available. But that’s not how things unfolded when, after some carefully planned and measured steps, I found myself being hurtled forward towards my goals. So in regards to The Project it has been an exciting year but there are times when those butterflies in my stomach revert into man-eating caterpillars to start chewing at my insides.

The Project is going to continue well into 2023. Coincidentally (or perhaps not?) an opportunity has just presented itself, one that crossed my mind only a few months ago, that would be a fine complement to the work I’m doing on The Project.

Managing to VPS (Verily Perfect my Skills)

My journey learning how to manage my own VPS has filled me with accomplishment and frustration (as it should). This year I continued to hone my skills to the point where I finally felt comfortable hosting personal projects on a self-managed VPS. That’s right, I am now taking care of the hosting duties of this very website! I’ve already encountered a number of issues that I needed to sort out but as of right now things are running smoothly 🙂 I even fixed an issue which prevented me from using emojis in my posts! Now look at me 😆💪👍🎉🎁

Hello cafés, my old friend

One of the things I enjoyed doing pre-pandemic was to sit at a café while doing work or enjoying a book over a drink. It was sad to see so many local businesses being forced to close because of the pandemic and that included the watering hole I called my “secret café”.

When I felt comfortable enough during the endemic period I started sitting in cafés again mostly for work but also for just taking the time to rest and relax, to enjoy whatever music is being piped through or the chattering of human existence, to think or to do some reading. To me this represents freedom and comfort while also providing what’s necessary to café patrons: a power plug and WiFi services for devices, a generally quiet atmosphere for reading and a clientele that will leave me alone to get work done.

And speaking of reading…

Expanding my reading repertoire

I started reading fiction again last year. This year I noticed myself beginning to miss physical magazines. I thought I just missed its tactile nature so picked up a bilingual (English and Japanese) travel magazine from the local bookstore. The issue was dedicated to places in Japan so I had to buy it to satiate my longing to visit Japan again. The cheap price tag didn’t hurt either.

Alongside the travel magazine I bought a Reader’s Digest, the first one I’d bought in 2 decades. The last time I bought an issue I was studying in Singapore and one of my friends commented that Reader’s Digest was a dumb thing to read. He promptly took my copy from me and proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes reading it over dinner. Some people try really hard to believe what they believe…

But the Reader’s Digest did more than just fill my time and curious mind, it made me realize I missed the curation. Magazines have to select specific pieces to print in each published issue and this has its advantages even in a world where you can literally find anything to read — where choice is endless I found myself reading only what was familiar and it was normally work-related.

My mind was craving something different, but not too different. And I think that’s why I started missing magazines early in the year; while you definitely have those dedicated to specific fields (think Photography or Gardening) you also have magazines that are general enough to include something you normally wouldn’t read but now have the opportunity to because it’s there within the pages. I may not buy a magazine dedicated to gardening but I’m likely to read an article on how gardening made the author feel closer to their deceased grandmother.

Thanks to Hacker News (an admittedly strange place to discover new reading sources) I eventually found some online equivalents — The Smithsonian MagazineNautilusAtlas Obsucra and Farnam Street to name a few. I’ve subscribed to their newsletters and the folder I’ve dedicated to them is already bursting at the seams. I won’t get through it all but it’s nice to know I have easy access to interesting things to read.

Made headway but might not cross the finish

The Script

I’ve got plenty of half-complete scripts sitting in Evernote and this year I resolved to complete 1 of them. The one I chose is a full-length stage play and the goal was to have a first draft by the end of 2022. While I have made a lot of progress I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it.

When The Project unexpectedly accelerated I put everything else on hold including the Script. Things eased up in late October but then I got sick and spent most of November recovering. As of typing it’s December and I plan to work on the Script as much as I can but emotions have been coming up for me after being pent up for years (maybe longer) and it’s been draining to deal with.

Getting to a first draft was meant to have me put aside the perfectionism that’s always loitering around me to produce something “good enough” to edit. I’ll have to remember that in the remaining days of 2022.

Some work-related projects

Alongside learning to self-manage a VPS there were some other things I’d planned to learn throughout the year. Once again, The Project took precedence leaving these other plans languishing. No harm in bringing them into 2023 but it would have been nice to have been able to clear them this year.

Are you guys still asleep?!

Finally the one thing that I didn’t even start:


Okay, it’s not quite accurate to say I didn’t declutter but there were 2 specific items I wanted to get rid of and didn’t act on either of them. I have no clue why 🤷‍♂️

My 2022 Theme was “Mix”

Quite honestly I didn’t quite know what it meant to “Mix” but the theme sprang from my mind at the end of 2021. The image I got was that of making coffee (ironic since I don’t drink the stuff). Take ground up coffee beans and pour hot water on (through?) them. Add some sugar/milk/creamer and you’ve got coffee (more or less). More specifically, you’ve got something distinct that isn’t ground beans, hot water or sugar/milk/creamer that many would say is more than the sum of its parts. But it requires stirring the contents, or rather mixing, and the willingness of its constituents to simultaneously give up a part of themselves, retain a part of themselves and accept a part from the others.

Nice image but how would I apply that to my life?

My first thought is to cross-pollinate ideas and lessons from the different areas of my life. Which is what I did to various degrees of success. Remember that Script I was writing? I was brain-storming a twist that needed to make sense within the context of the story. At the same time I was working on a VPS specifically trying to get a certain thing to work right. One evening I realized the problem in my VPS was the very solution for my Script and wrote it in. I’m quite pleased with it so far.

This illustrates my initial understanding of “mix” — build doorways between different areas of my life that would otherwise be cordoned off to themselves. But upon reflection I think another definition could just as easily hold sway: to bring more of myself into all areas of my life. Instead of making one (or a few) parts of myself responsible for, say, the Script, bring in more of myself into it. When it comes to script-writing my cognitive faculties lead the charge. But what about the part of me that just wants to have fun, what would that part contribute? How about the inner child? What about the stern “by-the-books” old fogey? They all have something to contribute.

When I first came up with the concept of having a yearly theme I expected each to last only that year. But now I’m seeing that perhaps a theme only starts in that year and could very well continue well past. I saw a lot of last year’s “Reclaiming my life” theme at play in 2022. I think “Mix” will be with me throughout 2023.

And what for next year’s theme?

I don’t know yet. But as of writing there’s 3 weeks left of 2022. And there are some things I need to wrap up before the year ends. Something will come to me in that time, it always does.

One thing that has come to me, and I’m not sure if this has any bearing on next year’s theme, is that I want to re-arrange the order of the categories on my one-pager. When I first created this one-pager as a quick reference of the year’s goals and foci the categories were arranged in no particular order other than it’s what made sense to me at the time. Maybe now it’s time to arrange it in order of importance.