Craft By Zen

4 min read

🔖essay   🔖reflection

Year of Challenges (32)

When you start the year heartbroken and scared to start again, where do you go? In my mind, being 32 meant looking forward to getting married, starting a family, buying a home. Life had other plans for me. I took some time to reflect, and I started by selecting an annual theme. It was my “Year of Challenges”, where the theme at first meant to start again and regain a sense of agency. It ended as a way to look at events outside your control.

Wake Up Call

One of my biggest takeaways from the past year came from the book ”Four Thousand Weeks ”, by Oliver Burkeman. “Seek out novelty in the mundane”, Burkeman writes. When you’re a child, more experiences are novel because those are first time experiences. When you’re an adult, most experiences are mundane because most experiences are routine. Burkeman’s suggestion for making those mundane activities novel is to take the time to notice them and reflect.

A way I’ve been tracking this is by utilizing a second brain and reviewing notes that I’ve saved throughout the week. Little tidbits from articles I read, ideas that are in their infancy, potential future projects I may want to start. It’s like reviewing your journal in a more systematic way, and remembering what your past self said to help inform your present self, and potentially make decisions for your future self. (In the future, I will write about my experiences with developing a second brain, what it means, and how I utilize it).

How Love Lasts

I never expected the year to be where I entered heart broken, and exited engaged. I had a lot of re-learning to do when it came to love. Furthermore, I read through How Not To Die Alone by Logan Ury to be an indispensable resource. Some big takeaways were “Date for a life partner, not a prom date”, and “Screw the spark”.

I had this erroneous belief that you should wait three years to propose to someone.

But when you know, you know. Instead, I scrapped waiting years and I jumped straight to the ring and question. I was second guessing my plan. I wanted to surprise her at a rose garden in Oakland, but it was far too dark when we arrived. She was annoyed by the midterm elections, and I was thinking, what could a Plan B mean? I proposed in front of Fenton’s Creamery, and her annoyance became a delightful surprise. She was in tears, and I’ll never forget that moment.

A Run To Remember

I ran a marathon! I hadn’t been to the gym in two years, neglected my physical health during the COVID years, and was afraid to start working out again. What was different from the last time I found myself in similar circumstances was that I learned many lessons from my former physical trainer. I found an accountability partner in a friend who moved back to the area.

At first, it was just running every Saturday morning at Golden Gate Park. Then a different friend suggested I run the SF Half Marathon with her. I created a daily workout plan to get myself back in shape in 7 months, and it paid off. I ran the fastest half-marathon I could ever ask for, and it felt much better than the past two years combined. My biggest hope is that I take this feeling away with me for future years to come.

Exiting Thoughts

I intend to write about more experiences in short essays. Returning to writing is scary. I remember the video Ze Frank made about the “An Invocations on Beginnings”. He says “Let me think about the people who I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me, I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.” I think it’s hard to give yourself another chance, and easy to say “I’ll do this again another day”. Writing was my form of zen, and I miss it so much. Please consider continuing to read what I have to write, and support me in future endeavors.

Ta ta for now. 🙃