This year was stressful in ways that I’d rather not share. Rest assured the reasons are personal and mundane, and not life-threatening. At the risk of promoting an over-idealized internet version of my life, I thought I’d just share some nice things that stood out or helped me in 2023. These are for your enjoyment, but are not an attempt to represent what my life is like overall. Maybe I’ll put this disclaimer on every post from now on!
Books come to mind first. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel A. Van Der Kolk had a huge impact on me. So many humans have experienced trauma that having little or no understanding of it creates a huge blind spot, especially with those humans you love. This book made me think a basic course in trauma should be a public education requirement. It can add a dimension of compassion to almost any human interaction, and for the really meaningful interactions it can be a game changer.
Another big one was Breath by James Nestor. We breathe all day every day. Could more insight into that bodily function be a boon to our overall experience of life? It has been for me.
I still share photos on Flickr and embrace the internet old fart identity this conveys. Of course our cat Maddy is the most photogenic member of the family.
I’m very grateful my good health allowed me to continue an active life this year. Strava has become my most active social network. One highlight from the year was a week of splitboarding in the Utah Wasatch with my ski buddies Aaron and Orri.
An important part of my outdoor life has been volunteering with Adventure Scientists. Ann and I managed to collect more cone surveys than any other team this year for their reforestation project. I learned a lot about how conifers reproduce, and also how difficult it is to get good photos of this subject. Since you’re now burning with curiosity, here is a nice crop of incense cedar cones, which look like green pistachios.
What else? I continue to enjoy journalism from High Country News, like this story on the unfolding fate of Glen canyon and Lake Powell on the dwindling Colorado river. I also like mining for interesting music on Bandcamp, where I find artists like Thad Kopec who buck the mainstream.
Okay, there are a few good things from the year. These little things may not be sufficient to prevent the USA from becoming a dictatorship in 2024, but you never know. I’m not looking forward to that aspect of the year ahead, but I’m bracing to do my part.