For the first years of this blog, I wrote a pair of Retrospective/Prospective posts that looked back at the year that was, and forward to the year that will be, respectively. I ceased this practice for the two reasons that I simply forgot that I had a blog for a season, and that somewhere along the line I decided that too much introspection was not a healthy pastime. I did not—and likely still do not—know how to parse the difference between introspection and reflection.
But, I like the idea of having practices, rhythms that I simply do because I do them, not because of the capriciousness of how I feel about doing it at the time. The whole point of practices such as reflection is to do something I may not feel like doing at the time because it’s a good thing to do and I said I would do it regularly. Yes, basing a practice on the flipping of a calendar year is arbitrary, but there’s a precedent, and it’s as good a time as any other.
I can hardly remember 2011. It vanished. Work was good, but there was too much of it, and it took over my life at times. I also spent my first full year living at Flatlander’s Inn, an intentional supportive housing community. The entire year felt like a tug-of-war of loyalties between Flatlanders, my business, my wife, and my other relationships in life. I feel like there were only losers in said tug-of-war. Have I mentioned that I get gloomy when I get introspective?
It’s at this point that I begin to rail against the limitations of the two-part retrospective/prospective model. I want to immediately jump ahead and talk about all of the ways that 2012 will be better; will be more balanced, more productive. Fitter, happier, etc. Slow down.
And now I’m at the point where I don’t want to post this on my blog any more, because I was liking my blog moving in more topical and less confessional directions. But again, I’ll abide by the discipline.
And speaking of blogging, my experiment of posting every day to reach 500 posts by year’s end didn’t quite happen, although I did hit a rate of 0.5 posts per day over the duration. This is post no. 467 in just over 6 years of blogging (or 0.21 posts per day), which works out to about 1.5 posts per week or 6.4 posts per month. These long term averages hide the fact that in 2011 had only 53 posts (0.15 posts per day). I’d only posted 21 times in 2011 up and until October 26th, for an average of 0.07 posts per day. But that looks positively stellar compared to 2010, where I posted a mere 7 times. Yes, these numbers should all be in a chart or something. But my writing rates are on the rise, which is a positive part of 2011.
A bit more on blogging: my favourite post I wrote this year was After the God-Shaped Hole, articulating a critical step in my journey as a thinking person of faith in Jesus. But Battlestar Galactica, Rationality & Human Nature was a close second. On Footnotes was the most enjoyable to write, ebooks were much on my mind, and The New mattwie.be and Notebooks and Pocket Computers were tied for most comments in the year. The latter was additionally the most visited post written in 2011, while On Valedictions continues its reign as my most popular post of all time.
I also started an experiment with polyphasic sleep, which I kept a log of for the first few weeks. I slept 4.5 hours per night with two 20 minute naps during the day for about a month, and I liked it quite a bit overall. I stopped due to illness for a time, and found it hard to get back into during the holidays. My writing output was much higher while I was sleeping polyphasically, so I’ll probably try again.
The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the fact that my wife won us a trip to San Francisco via EQ3. For a magical week in mid-October, she and I flaneured through what is now my favourite city in North America. No computers + no work + my wife + San Francisco = amazing, probably the best experience since we visited Europe in 2006.
Here’s a collection of 2011 aphorisms, mostly learned by failing:
- I’m a cynic because I’m a romantic and an idealist.
- There is no magic bullet.
- Life is what happens when you’re making plans to be happy tomorrow, next week, next year. Live now.
- I love the idea of “life’s too short for work you don’t enjoy,” but I’m also painfully aware of how easy that is to say for a young educated white male Canadian.
- I do best when I have practices in my life that I keep doing whether I’m feeling like it at the time or not.
- It’s especially easy to forgo grounding practices when you’re doing well, not realizing that it was your observance of those practices that enabled your well-being.
- When I don’t care about something, it’s usually pardoxically because I care too much. See point about cynicism above.
- You can never do it yourself, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from the foolishness of trying.
- Don’t mistake the aesthetic beauty of a thought for real beauty.
- There is a distinct shortage of people who know how to be alone with their own thoughts and concentrate.
It’s only fitting that, since it’s been four years since my last retrospective, this post has become long enough to compensate for those missing years. Hopefully the upcomging prospective for 2012 will be more merciful on any readers masochistic enough to read this far.