The Weirdest Year Ever

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2020 was a heck of a year. Both in the best and the worst meanings of that word. A lot happened; both good and bad. A year of "shake-up", one can say.

This is my year-end review. At least the public version of it. What is private should be left private, after all. Nonetheless, I hope you find it an interesting read - I certainly enjoy reading year-end reviews of people I follow. Let's go.

Me

Health

This year I finally started to truly care about my health. Got off to a strong start in the first few weeks of the year by exercising at least three days a week and making more conscious eating choices. But, as it often happens, I suffered a terrible mental crisis in late January, and it ruined all the habits I've built. Desperately tried to get back on track afterwards, but only after a month of lockdown I had enough mental capacity to work on my physical health.

I went on 224 walks this year. By "walk" I mean just walking outside without a destination to get to. From March to August, I was going out every day. Walking helped me sort out my thoughts, feelings, expectations.

In July I started cycling again. A sport I once loved, but abandoned it for a more sedentary lifestyle. It was really good to be back on the bike. I cycled 756 kilometres from September 15th to December 31st. Here's proof. Using the bike as a COVID-free form of transport provided me with almost daily exercise through the second half of the year.

Overall, I lost 10 kg of weight and gained a lot of strength. I feel the best I've ever felt. Health has become my #1 priority, and, for the sake of health, I'm willing to sacrifice things I'd never sacrifice a year ago. Good.

In terms of mental health, the first and the second lockdown did provide a strong dose of anxiety. And it took a toll on me. But, all that solitude during the first one allowed me to deal with the anxiety and other stuff pretty well.

It was a year of letting go. Of control, of dominance, of submissiveness. Of tunnel vision. Especially in relationships. I finally feel at peace with everything and everyone.

As I said to my friend a couple of weeks ago: on the outside, I'm pretty much the same. I do the same things, speak in the same way, hang out with the same people. But on the inside, everything changed. Like someone swapped the kernel of my OS. Good.

Still, I suffer from survivor's guilt; so many bad things happened to so many people this year, while I thrived. Need to focus more on altruism and helping in 2021. Although, to my credit, I did volunteer a lot of time away in 2020.

Work

In terms of my studies, I didn't put as much attention to it as I did before. Focused on the things that bring value and interest me. It was hard to not completely ignore the other stuff, but I think I managed to strike the balance quite good. Well, the exams will verify that.

This year I finally put in real work into existing side projects instead of starting a plethora of new ones that would be abandoned.

Produktywny Uczeń got 11 new podcast episodes and a few new blog posts. I started photographing again.

This blog got 365 new posts this year. I didn't miss a single day. Woohoo!

Yes, sometimes I wrote new posts in bulk (mostly in December). But still, I consider my challenge of writing every day for 1000 days still going on.

People

Well, what can I say - I met some amazing people this year and re-bonded with old friends. Leaving the details for my private year-end review.

Less connection results in better connection.

Also, I hate texting. Please don't text me. Just call.

Environmentalism

I started to focus more on my consumption and environmental impact this year.

Greatly reduced emissions from travel, by a) travelling a lot less, and b) taking 60% of trips by bike.

In 2021, I aim to travel 70% by foot and bike, and go by train on trips over 100km. I will offset any flights I may take.

We installed solar panels in July, meaning that on a yearly basis, all of our electricity usage will be from renewable sources. We still use gas for heating in the winter.

Still using too much plastic. My guilty pleasure, vegan yogurts, come in plastic containers. Aiming to cut down my plastic consumption by 80% in 2021.

Content

Books

I read 24 books this year. Not as much as I'd like, but still pretty good. Joined a book club in November - it's been fun so far! Here are my favorite ones:

Non-fiction

  1. The Courage To Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi. Learned a lot through this book; it's a perfect blend of high-level psychology/philosophy with mass-level language and concepts.
  2. Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. Truly an eye-opening book. It talks mostly about business, but for me it's about so much more.
  3. Hell Yeah Or No by Derek Sivers. It's a simple book, written in plain English. A modern read for a modern world.

Fiction/prose

  1. A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski. A powerful piece by the Polish master novelist. Incredibly delicate and transformative insight into the mystery of life.
  2. Flights by Olga Tokarczuk. She truly deserved that Nobel Prize in Literature.
  3. 100 Years Of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Incredible piece. Would love to read it again in Spanish.

Podcasts

Listened to too many podcasts this year. Here are my three favorite episodes from 2020:

  1. The Reluctant Immortalist, Invisibilia S6E5.
  2. The Natural Experiment, 99% Invisible E401.
  3. Tomorrowland, The Last Archive S1E10.

Music

Favorite albums from 2020:

  1. RTJ4 by Run The Jewels.
  2. Shore by Fleet Foxes,
  3. Tęskno by Tęskno.

Tools

I stayed with Standard Notes as my second brain. Switched to Inkdrop for a brief stint in April. And had two longer stints with Obsidian in May and October.

Still, Standard Notes remains the simplest tool that provides me with much functionality. I have never enjoyed using it more than now.

Spent more time writing on paper than ever before. Many of the posts this year started on paper. Here are the notebooks from this year. Inspired by Austin Kleon.

Afterword

2020 was my weirdest year ever. But, frankly, the best one, too.

Still continuing The Search, now with more excitement than ever.

Looking forward to what 2021 has in store for us all. And the next 365 posts.

Thank you for being here, dear reader. I wish you, truly, all the best in this new chapter of our lives.

🖖,
Alex


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