Here’s the short summary of 2016 for me: many of the new things I hoped for did not pan out, yet I managed to hang on to the basic things that make for a quality life. An amazing life, in fact, when put in perspective. The perspective part is important.
I don’t want to fall into the the trap of becoming angry or dissatisfied about the few parts of my life that are not amazing, yet that trap seemed to be the media theme of 2016. It wasn’t just the election, though that was indeed a jarring example. Marketing in general is gaining the capability of zeroing in right on the thing that makes us unhappy, so it can promise a fix that will actually just deliver more marketing. This seems to me like a major ingredient in the unrest being felt here in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere. Now before you stop reading, this post really is about my year, that’s the extent of my rant.
I will suggest a way to counter dissatisfaction, though, and apply it to my year. When confronted with disappointing results, perform a Maslow check. This is a simple evaluation of your situation in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Here’s how it looks for me.
Air, water, food: check. Not just any food either, but largely locally grown organic food. I’m still a vegan, with the exception of local happy eggs. My diet is easy for me and I consider it a contribution toward a better future. I think it’s very possible that I eat better than the vast majority of humans who ever existed.
Clothing, shelter: check. Our small riverside apartment is full of such wonderful things, hot and cold running water, refrigerator, furnace, dishwasher. Electricity! The rare power outage reminded us how we depend on electricity. We’re comfortable almost all the time. The laundry situation could be better, to keep things honest.
Physical security: check. I continue feel most physically vulnerable in vehicles, with close calls on the road (one on I-25 north of Denver comes to mind) being the only physical threats I recall.
Economic security: half check. Things worked out okay, but uncertainty is high, causing some anxiety. I recognize this is largely by choice, though, and I could easily pursue more reliable income.
Health and well-being: check. I’m reveling in very good health and physical fitness. I discovered I have bone spurs in my feet, which cut short my July backpacking trip. I’ve recovered and believe I can prevent a recurrence. (Ann didn’t have it so easy. I’m mostly speaking for myself here.)
General risk exposure: half check. Health insurance was a challenge and looks like it will continue to be.
Love and Belonging
Friendship: check. As a natural wanderer I struggle sometimes to feel part of a community, but friends always appear regardless. We even enticed a friend to move to Reno this year, though he struggled to find work here and plans to move to Sacramento.
Intimacy: check. Marriage is good to me, one of my greatest fortunes.
Family: half check. I considered moving to be closer to my dad in Colorado, but ultimately decided against it. Instead I made a two week visit to each of my parents, and hope to make a practice of that.
Here we get into the more subjective end of the pyramid, but I give myself a check here.
Working in the software world has given me a core belief that helps keep my esteem up: good quality software may not be widely discovered and adopted. I feel certain that my skills are growing and improving even if my software products are not yet making bundles for me.
Oddly I suffer more self-esteem issues in my recreational life. My experiences on public lands are crucial to my well-being, but my contributions to protect those resources are minimal. I will mention that I contributed some bug fixes to iNaturalist this year, which I feel indirectly promotes a much-needed respect for nature.
Have I achieved my potential? I’m not sure I’ve reached this level of distinction. For now I hope my self-esteem is based on realized potential. I’ll consider it an achievement to face problems at this level.
Still feel disappointed?
I don’t know about you, but the Maslow check emphasizes my incredible good fortune to me. The disappointments are mostly about things that don’t matter that much, and could easily change. It’s been a year to feel good about. This allows me to honestly say to you all, happy new year!
Numbers and Notes
Hours Tracked (by GPS): 350.6199999999999
Outdoor Nights: 73|3
Miles on Foot: 1184.3999999999994
Elevation Gain on Foot (ft): 196615
Rock Climbing Elevation Gain (ft): 4155
Books Read: 13
This statistical madness has now been going on long enough to compare a few years: