Reflection: A Fresh Year + Looking Back
New Year Greetings!
And welcome to the premier issue of Pins and Boards this year.
I’m excited for 2022.
Thank you for your readership in the past year during the launch of the newsletter. That you make time to read and comment is humbling and encouraging to me even as I look forward to unexpected intellectual adventures, and engaging conversation with you.
I discovered a neat Substack feature that lets me import my old posts from Medium:
I used the feature to upload old works on to my Substack archive.
This January I’ll be spending more time in reflection. Sometimes to make steps forward we need to look back; appreciate the progress, missteps and the hidden lessons of our individual histories.
As I review my archive I can see the growth and the learning that has had to happen over time. Some posts are dark and sweetly ignorant, others bitter, and disappointed, even disoriented; most are filled with excitement, while some still make me red. These beginning attempts at self-expression are revealing.
Like a father overwhelmed by his daughter’s I-love-you-daddy stick figures, these early works feel like a peek at a naïve yet sincere self. The dabbling at poetry, flash-fiction, fables, writing experiments, love-letters and even attempts at philosophy are entertaining.
I hope you find them as amusing.
"Anyone who isn't embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn't learning enough." - Alain de Botton.
Getting back to writing and publishing after a long lull is refreshing. The joy of connection over personal interests is a tonic for the soul.
My online journey began on Medium in January, 2017. Mid-2018, I stopped publishing. 2019 was a no-publish year for me up until 29th March, 2020: 2 days after the first round of COVID-lockdowns. The loneliness and the added disorientation of a pandemic was overwhelming. Like everybody else I was confused; to make sense of it all I went back to posting after almost a year-and-a-half of silence.
The first piece I wrote was about how to make the most of the COVID homestays. You can feel the fear and angst in my words. The uncertainty, the grasping, the reach-out-for-more mindset, the denial and the unembraced emptiness. It all sounded like a great plan. I’m glad I didn’t pay attention to it.
Ok, I lie, I tried it out; it didn’t work. But in the process I observed how I was ignoring my soul’s ache for relief. A consistent writing practice had become an altar for reflection and recalibration. Without it I was lost. I had wasn’t exploring new ideas, questioning current habits, welcoming contradictory opinion, or engaging in uncomfortable discussions. I stopped learning.
I hid behind life’s rounds of busyness and much activity. Living in an anxious state of doing was the only way I knew to escape my adult challenges: escape from personal pain, contradiction, buried trauma, unhealed wounds. At the time of publishing my get-back-to-writing post, my thoughts seem to make sense. But looking back the loneliness and fatigue of a soul howling for release is undeniable.
These drowning attempts at self-expression feeble as they were helped me to reconnect with a long ignored passion: writing. That post got me back to thinking what life means to me. It led me to question everything I thought I knew. It made me ask better questions of my self and not settle for pat answers.
I write to discover my thoughts, I write for fun, I write to rant, I write to just please my self, I write to clear my head but most important, I write for my sanity.
» Food & Travel:
I’ve always dreamed of traveling the world and eating the local foods at my destination. I’m yet to begin work on that. But with the ability to read and an active imagination, I can still travel anywhere I want.
Argentina has never been on my tour list but any first-time visitor to Argentina makes this classic mistake.
» Books & Reading
Modern reading is fun: you can do it anywhere. Ease of access has made this activity more available. But good reading is like a great conversation where the reader debates, assents and even dissents with the author’s perspectives.
A reader who does not engage an author is boring. Like an unresponsive conversational partner. (Yawn!)
If you find yourself bored by a book, maybe the practice of marginalia can help make your reading more productive.
»Photo of The Week
I enjoy walks especially in nature trails. There, I get to clear my mind, rest while also learning to be ok with emptiness.
This is a view from the Western facing section of the Nairobi Arboretum: a tree sanctuary for over 300 exotic and indigenous tree and shrub species which provide a home for birds and monkeys.
Last Friday, I discovered the the intrusion of a scraper into the sanctuary’s skyline. It feels rude. But it’s change.
More about the Arboretum’s dramatic beginnings on this thread:
Have a Peaceful Week!