An idle year in review

Before heading back into the working world tomorrow, I took some time today to review the past year of these weekly blog posts. You don’t realize how long it’s really been until you review all the news events (daily Covid numbers jumped from two digits to four) and things you did. It’s probably not a good idea to question whether they were worth doing in the first place. Ah what the hell, let’s do it.

Here are some ironic bits I pulled out, because hindsight:

I’ve always envied people who find the hobbies/obsessions just for them (damage to finances and relationships aside). I’ve never met a game I loved so much that I would spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on buying its in-app purchases. Or shoes, bicycles, etc. I know people who do, though. They seem to buy almost thoughtlessly and without regret. [Week 26.21]

That was me wishing I had a hobby I liked enough to spend on it without thinking. Not long after writing that, I bought my first NFT. Over the next few months, I would fall out of love with the idea, and then back again. At present, there are days when I spend hours browsing interesting new releases and have the urge to just catch ‘em all. I don’t even know if it’s rational, if these artworks are real, or if this web3 mode of acquisition is legit, the way it might verifiably be in the real world. I justify it by saying this intersects with my work and my interests, but the simple truth is I’ve found my version of sneaker collecting. Be careful what you wish for.

Rather than continue reading Firebreak this week, I looked into a few topics I’ve been feeling ignorant of: what’s going on with social tokens? What do people mean exactly when they say “metaverse”, since they can’t literally imagine it’s Snow Crash, (insert Princess Amidala face) right? [Week 33.21]

A little while later, the metaverse hype train really took off (or derailed, depending on your POV) with Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, and every other company having some interest in exploring the space. Sadly, it seems that some people really do want life to be like in Snow Crash.

Prompted by a friend’s reports of how well their investments in the Luna token were doing, I looked into the Terra ecosystem out of Korea and was impressed by its vision — insomuch as someone with little background in economics can certify a financial flywheel logical and brilliant. I don’t know what I don’t know, but it sure looks good to me. [Week 34.21]

Narrator: Yup, he was indeed unqualified to certify any financial flywheels.

This tweet helped me to see that it does take longer than you’d think to disconnect from work/overwork. I thought I’d gotten to a good place in just a couple of weeks, but looking back, I’ve been giving myself a hard time about not being productive enough, not doing enough each week to learn new things, or start new hobbies, or have enough fun — and all of that is a psychological holdover from the rhythms of work/overwork. [Week 37.21]

I’m not ready yet to sit down and properly reflect on the entire period, what I learnt and how/if it’s changed me, but the short answer I’ve been giving people along the way is based on the above. For me at least, it’s impossible to take time off and just disconnect without going through several loops of trying to relax, trying to make productive use of the time, and feeling upset that I suck at taking time off.

The first half was more deliberately used: I planned things, I met up with people, I took stock at the end of every day to ask what I could have done instead. Fooling around with the Misery Men project was probably healthy; a way to feel like I was making something without the usual worry of whether it mattered.

Emotionally, the volatility probably went down in the second half — I wasn’t worried too much about how the time was used because it felt like there so much of it; maybe similar to how rich people don’t think too hard about their daily expenses. At the start of this sabbatical, one of the ways I phrased my objective was “to find boredom”, by which I meant total leisure satiation. It’s not possible, of course, just an ideal, because I could goof off forever. My guess is that it was only in the final third of the year that I started to live in the right mental neighborhood. I don’t feel completely renewed and energized or anything like that, but I take the emergence of my Subconscious Heirlooms project last week as a good sign. A year ago, I would not have suddenly found the will and courage to dash off 39 drawings in a week and put them up in public to be laughed at.

In terms of all the media activity I recorded, it looks like I watched a hell of a lot of TV, mostly disposable Netflix crap. Could have done with less of that. I spent enough time playing games, but still failed to get around to Yakuza Kiwami 2, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Lost Judgment, Astral Chain, Unpacking, Paradise Killer, A.I. The Somnium Files, VA-11 Hall-A, and a couple more still! I didn’t read as many books as I’d have liked, and that’s a bigger regret than not clearing the games backlog. Either I get better at squeezing gaming and reading into the rhythms of daily working life, or I’ll have to take another year off soon.

Writing anything down, whether in my journal, to friends, or in these blog posts, never felt like a waste.


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