Personal entry follows.
This past weekend, I had an opportunity to visit some of my relatives. While there I had a bit of down-time, and decided to think about the next calendar year and what it will look like. Focusing on what I can control, I came up with a grid matrix for three spheres or general areas of focus: Work, Play, and Life (this is sort of the catch-all category). For each area, I had three questions I'd ruminate on.
Below is my informal analysis of what I'd like to see happening in 2022, with varying degrees of specificity.
One thing I deliberately left out is the prospect of starting any kind of romantic relationship. I'm just not interested right now. If a woman comes along and knocks me off my feet then that's great. But I'm not on the lookout. With that being said...
-- WORK --
Though I am wrapping up my time at my current day job, most of my attention is on the move to the eco-compound for the month of May. While there, I have a month to determine a general plan for the next six months. What will that be like? It seems heavily dependent with how well I fit in. However, I have to remind myself that - should I want to work there for a decent period of time - in order for them to want me to stick around, I need to pay attention to the following:
- I must be good at what I do.
- There must be a demand for what I do.
- It must be difficult to replace me.
These are the basics to job security. So once I figure out how I can best usefully serve the community there, I must become really, really good at whatever it is.
Another aspect of this work sphere is developing a daily routine. Can I reasonably determine how my days will go, or am I flying by the seat of my pants? Personally, I'd like to have a solid semblance of a daily routine established so I have an idea of what I will accomplish each day, whether or not I have the time and energy to take on something new, and whether or not it's time to let go of a given practice.
I think I've become fairly good at solving problems. So a practice I want to preserve and continue using in 2022 would be that of critically-thinking about how to deal with issues as they arise. By coming up with multiple solutions, you build confidence in the notion that the solution or tactic you finally settle on is the one that seemed better than the rest that you came up with.
So most of the time, it seems like a mind game where you convince yourself that you know what you're doing. But thoroughly thinking through several options or scenarios beforehand and then picking the most-effective one of the bunch has worked well for me in this regard. Being able to pivot to new solutions when one thing isn't working, and to integrate the advice and wisdom shared with you, are also extremely useful.
A specific area I want to explore in terms of work is that of making audio recordings. Recently, I'd been in contact with a blogger I've been following and contributing to for several years. He's soon to release a new collection of essays which I find to be packed with useful info and triggers for insight. So I did a sample recording of the collection's introduction and sent it over to him. He was enthusiastic in his reply, so I intend to finish up the currently-released chapters while on this retreat.
I think there's a market for someone willing to do these kinds of things for writers. Starting with this collection of essays, I want to create a portfolio of audiobook samples, and then shop myself around as a narrator. I think it's reasonable to take on and then complete one new project a quarter. If I need work, I will look into doing recordings of public-domain works from places like Project Gutenberg, and then adding that to my portfolio. This is enjoyable, I can be proud of the end-product, and eventually I can be paid to do it.
-- PLAY --
It's time for me to find a new tribe. :)
In all seriousness, a community of like-minded individuals is essential at this point in my life. I'll be doing all sorts of things for the first time ever, I'll be in a completely new place - literally a new geographic region of the planet - and I'm leaving my current circle of friends behind, more or less. I'm going to seek out a new group of friends to learn, grow, and share with.
The notion of "mutual aid" is fairly high on my list. I haven't found much of that where I am at the moment. I used to think that I would never be able to find a community like that within the United States and that I'd need to go elsewhere in the world. Upon more consideration, it seems like I've not found a more formalized or structured environment that caters to mutual aid.
Most of the time, it's a family structure that has some measure of this - not all families, of course - but none of my family will be around. So who would take me in? Who would I welcome in to my life? Who would I want to hang around with? At its core, I think there's a measure of loneliness to contend with, but also that of finding those like-minded people who want to create along the same lines that I do.
Kindness and kind people are everywhere. I have a number of those people in my life right now. How to keep them in my life while living at a distance will be a challenge. Meanwhile I will need to cultivate friendships and enjoyable experiences where I am, instead of constantly pining for the past or longing to be "back home." I don't want to ever wish I wasn't where I am, at least for the long term. This is where I find myself now, and it's a massive motivator for my rather significant life change.
But this is about Play, isn't it? So I had a few ideas about things that bring me enjoyment. I like playing games - both board games and video games - as well as making them. I like writing letters and journaling. I like singing. I enjoy reading. I like solitude, being in nature, and observing other animals. Bird-watching has become a favourite of mine, which is something that I really didn't expect I would like as much as I do. Of course, being stuck at home due to the pandemic has opened the door to this, and I likely wouldn't have learned this about myself otherwise. The office spaces I've had for several years running don't even have windows...!
Some specific things I would like to have in my life this coming year would be living within what's known as an "intentional community." Entering a cult or some swinger's club is the furthest thing from my mind. Rather, a sense of community, shared purpose and values, and support is what I'm seeking. I'm in a position to actively seek this out in 2022, and I believe it will do me good.
Logistically-speaking, I want to cut down on my physical games collection and the quantity of game-making components I have on hand. At the same time, I still want to be able to scratch that itch to make a game and try out ideas that I have bouncing round in my head. So to accommodate, I want to find some "piece packs" and game compilations that have an array of parts that can be used to play and make a multitude of games. The end goal will be to have several games to choose from, with drastically-fewer components. Developing more roll-and-write games is also something I want to do, consistent with this idea of cutting down on physical components.
Finally, I think I would like to make music this coming year. Mostly, this seems like it will be me with a microphone and a kazoo. However, jumping into another band project would also be good for me, I think.
-- LIFE --
There's a lot of crossover from the other two topics into this one. However I have a handful of other ideas that didn't quite fit into those, that I want to mention here.
Part of my relocation would require that I drastically-reduce the quantity of physical goods that I own. When I left Nashville years ago, I left there only with what I could fit into my car. Looks like I'm going to have to do that again. The upside to this is that I know it's already possible, as I've done it already. I can "do without" a number of conveniences in my life. Certainly before I head out on this new phase I'll need to rid myself of a number of physical objects, and find multiple ways to use what I do keep.
I have two large physical objects that I am reluctant to sell off or give away: my exercise bike, and my laser-cutter. Both of those have a new home already, which is a load off my mind. Both my books and my board games can be donated to the local library, so that needs to be sorted out before I leave town - probably the sooner the better. Other things... well, I just need to let them go. Is there someone who can use my furniture? Maybe my landlords will want it?
One practice that has helped me progress and find solutions - much like my mention of critical thinking, earlier - is that of coming up with systems and routines. Establishing new routines wherever I end up in the year ahead will be critical to peace-of-mind. Even something as simple as making sure I go to bed at a reasonable time so I can do what I plan to do the next day is a routine that I've been able to cultivate over the years. The more routine I have, the less decision-making I need to do, and the more brain-power I have to spend on worthwhile decisions and activity.
Concepts I want to prioritize in the year ahead would include:
- Sustainability and resilience: both in myself and the world in which I find myself.
- Gardening, eating what I grow/harvest/cultivate.
- My default answer to requests is -no-. When I choose to do something, it is because I want to do it, not because I am being compelled or forced to. There are practical limits to this (death n' taxes, blah, blah, blah...) but one can avoid a lot of bullshit and excess drama by simply saying no, and moving on with their own business. Accept with a "hell yeah!" and do your best at something when it aligns with your ideals.
Unanswered questions include:
- Will I still be able to make soap?
- Will I be able to find (or better yet, grow) a suitable substitute for coffee?
-- FINAL THOUGHTS --
The prime directives and/or main ideas I want to make manifest in 2022 would include:
- Low-tech, sustainable solutions.
- The old adage of, "Render unto Caesar only that which is required."
- Embrace new community, a new tribe, and a mutual aid ethic.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. :)
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