2021 Annual Letter
Hey everyone, welcome to my annual newsletter. The deal is the same: I stop constantly updating you on my life via social media, and instead I update you just once a year.
It's healthier that way. You don't get FOMO. I don't get inundated by ads.
These missives for the ones out there who are still on my mind even though I haven't reached out... Yes, you, friend who's starting a jigsaw puzzle business, you whose wedding I missed, you who recently took a leap of faith to quit your job, you whose loved one is going through unspeakable health problems, you who just had their second daughter, and you who is still letting me mooch off your Netflix password.
2021 in 21 points
- I'm still living in San Francisco, and no longer living in a car (although I do often dream of doing it again, but in a van, and actually on the road).
- Sofi (my partner) and I have been dating for 4 years, and I think we both deserve a Bachelor's/Bachelorette's diploma. Ba dum tsh.
- Work has been very engaging but I'm still trying to find the work-life balance. Having work that is intellectually stimulating makes it difficult to leave at the end of the day.
- Gardening has been a new hobby of mine.. I have a personal balcony now and I have about 10 lettuces and 10 kales, and some herbs that died in the cold. I also have pet worms (for composting).
II. Questions that occupy my mind:
- Is Facebook still worth a personal boycott? I feel like I'm missing out on making new friends because everybody in SF seems to use FB Messenger and Events for everything, and relying on texting feels a little too anemic for real connection. Even important life events (e.g., having a baby) can't be reached without having to dodge some sponsored posts on Instagram.
- What is sacred any more? I scribed a long reflection late one night after watching a documentary called ARTIFISHAL: The Fight to Save Wild Salmon (see next section, highly recommend) and learning about how other cultures (e.g. indigenous ones) have a direct relationships to their natural resources. There's this one line where an attorney from the Yurok Tribe says "when your health is their [salmon] health, you're married in that way and that connectedness is the sacredness." Made me wonder what connection we have to anything any more. Everything is commodified and everything commodified is greenwashed. Do we find anything sacred any more (outside of family, religion, and nation)?
- Do I care about the poor only when it's convenient? I walk by about a dozen unhoused citizens every day, and each time I'm left with two choices: Do I practice deep empathy for each one in the moment, which leaves me feeling a little sad, a little mad, a little guilty, but at least I recognized them as suffering humans in front of me? Or, do I just ignore them (for personal safety) interrupt my deep thoughts and will help me get on with my day, but I worry about the person I become if I don't "exercise my empathy muscle" enough. Our habits make us who we are, and I've noticed that I've been taking the less empathetic route more and more.
- What is the most responsible way to travel? I struggled with this question for the past five years since I went to Southeast Asia. Poor countries rely on whole economies dedicated to servicing the rich chasing the Instagram Likes and YouTube subscribers. It erases what is real to make room for what is demanded. I was complicit in that, and since then I've always thought about how to "travel IN" a country versus "travel ON" it. One is extractive and entitled, the other is ... less so.
III. A few of my favorite things:
- Artifishal (Full Film) | The Fight to Save Wild Salmon - YouTube This is the movie that has impacted me the most this year. "Ultimately, the film sets two ideologies at odds: those who embrace the power of nature to heal and those who believe in a world that requires our continued attempts to control nature." Just watch it and let me know what you think. It's about more than just "factory farming" fish, it's about the gene pool that it creates, and erases.
- The Alpinist | Official Trailer | In Theaters Nationwide September 10 - YouTube If you thought Alex Honnold was crazy, Marc-Andre Leclerc will turn that upside down. This is a guy who climbs solo + on sight + mixed routes. This is the gold standard of climbing if there ever was one. RIP.
- 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible | Official Trailer | Netflix - YouTube A Tibetan sherpa finishes 14 of the world's tallest peaks in less than 7 months. "If this was done by some Western climber, the news would have been ten times bigger than this." Inspiring, and perfect for January fitness inspiration.
- jsomers.net | I should have loved biology
- More people should write « the jsomers.net blog
- If You Want Farming to be a Climate Solution, Protect Farmworkers | by Sarah Mock | Medium
- Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen | Psychology | The Guardian
- Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan - The Atlantic
- Vaclav Smil on the Need to Abandon Growth
- Seizing the Means of Home Production — harold lee
IV. Super small things:
- hashtag blessed that I still haven't gotten Covid (knock on wood).
- My bike got stolen. Out of my garage. Yes, it was locked.
- New injuries: left ankle (frisbee), right knee (bouldering). Ongoing injuries: right shoulder. My thirties have not been treating me well.
- 185 day streak on Duolingo, but still very novice at Spanish.
- I've come to the conclusion that YouTube Premium is now worth paying for* (ask me about the asterisk). The ads are just way too annoying these days.
- What's better than Tartine? Sofi and I feel soooooo basic that we love the croissants from that bakery and have been challenging ourselves to find a better one (texture, crispiness, filling, balance, etc.) but we have yet to find one. If you know of one, let us know.