Wrapping Up 2020, Welcoming 2021

In 2020, this blog had 10,400 views and 3,636 visitors (some repeat visitors, some new, some click-and-leaves). The majority of readers reached the blog through search engines (Google, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, Bing), WordPress Reader, or Twitter, with other social media venues trailing a bit farther behind. The most viewed item overall was the homepage.

Some reading and poetry-writing two days ago while drinking tea. I was trying to find an analytical stock photography image, but didn’t like any of the ones I saw, so let’s try this one!

As of today, December 29, I am pleased by some blog trends. I read someone saying a week or two earlier that people don’t seem to be that into prayer anymore, but on KALLISTI, the vast majority of the top 10 most viewed posts for the year were about the logistics of maintaining a household ritual routine, poems/prayers, and topics related to practice. I was surprised that the Commonplace Book tag (where I post comments on what I’m reading, usually Platonism) had fewer readers, but it’s possible that (a) not many people are Googling reading Proclus and (b) maybe a lot of those posts are high-context. I’m happy to have done the commonplace entries, though, because I try to pull out things that I think are useful to people who aren’t taking a deep dive into Platonism, and since I’m an extroverted thinker, I tend to learn material best when I’m not just passively reading. As many of the most-viewed posts were published before 2020, it will be interesting to see what gets picked up longitudinally.

The Most-Viewed Posts of 2020

Looking Back: My 2020 Goals

In 2019, I said that I would read 30 books in 2020, that I would meditate, and that I would publish Acts of Speech.

I did, in fact, read over 30 books — I am a bit spotty about adding Platonic dialogues I’ve read to Goodreads, but between the ones I’ve sporadically added, the commentaries, the nonfiction books, the poetry, and the fiction (usually novellas), I have achieved my goal.

One thing I said at the end of 2019, driven by all of the conflict in online communities that was worsening at the time and that has only gotten marginally better, was that I was going to read Conflict Is Not Abuse for takeaways on how to approach these things. That didn’t happen because I was distracted by reading Plato and my desire to finish the Iamblichean sequence (did it! 🎉). I went back to Conflict Is Not Abuse recently. There are some things I agree with, some things that I don’t, and I will probably be doing a lengthy review of it.

Meditation-wise, I was great about it until (August?), when a lot of self-care started sliding because the remote fall semester was starting. I did maintain doing yoga, though, which I’m proud of. In 2019, I was happy about where I was with my morning ritual and prayer practice, so I didn’t set any goals related to that; at the end of 2020, I’m less satisfied — I think a lot of this is honestly cabin fever and stress, so I need to separate out what isn’t working from what is.

In October 2020, I published Acts of Speech, and the print was available starting in November 2020. The feedback I’ve received on it so far has been positive, and if anyone would like to leave a review, Amazon and Goodreads have mechanisms, but Bookshop.org doesn’t seem to have a way (yet?).

What Will 2021 Bring?

There is a lot of uncertainty in the future because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and once-normal activities like grocery shopping or encountering a neighbor are now huge sources of stress. Contracting COVID-19 is somewhat of a game of chance (beyond the obvious high-risk situations) given how widespread it is in the USA, so there is always the chance of being bedridden for weeks, developing a post-infection long-term condition, or dying.

In 2020, one of the ways I stressed myself out a lot was when I went on social media (okay, Twitter) even though my original 2020 intention was to stay away: Pandemic isolation made me feel lonely and drifting even though there were other things I should have been doing (e.g., writing, yoga, meditation, long walks in nature) that would have made a positive difference in my well-being. The reason Twitter was stressful is that I have a list of goals that require time to achieve, and it made me angry at my lack of self-discipline when I respond to Twitter’s clever behavioral engineering triggers by over-engaging. I’m not as extroverted as a lot of extroverts — if I were to be honest, I’m an ambivert, and some of my favorite social activities are things like spin or yoga classes because I’m with people doing the same activity in togetherness, but without talking to them. However, those joyous things have halted, and I’m still flailing when it comes to finding replacements.

A few weeks ago, I did a mind map. Over the weekend, I analyzed it to decide what I want to accomplish in the coming year. The way I do goal-setting is by communicating the how as well as the what of the goal, which means that I partially or completely hit most of my goals every year by design. There is always progress.

In 2021, I’m front-loading learning and writing goals to the first two-thirds of the year in the hopes that by the beginning of autumn, enough will be okay that life around other people becomes safe enough to do things like restart my gym membership and go into NYC for a museum crawl, even if masks are still required. (I actually really love wearing masks in public because I get self-conscious about my facial expressions and I hate getting sick or wondering if I’ve given someone else a cold, so I hope they’re here to stay on transit and in crowded settings.) I’m not holding my breath, though, about travel — even the trip into NYC is unrealistic for 2021, and I’ll likely do a lot of traveling in 2022 and 2023.

My solitary goals include two religious ones: First, I’m writing another book of poetry, this time leaning into the speculative, because I’m intrigued by exoplanets. It’s tentatively called Speculative Theogonies, and like the middle term of a triad, I’m hoping it bridges between religion and speculative poetry in a unique and rewarding way. I’m well-positioned to write this because I minored in astronomy back in the day, and in my current job, I support researchers who are working in exoplanets and have been to research talks about exoplanets for years at this point. Plus, I’ve read enough theology and Platonism at this point to hopefully be a useful poet. Second, I want to write a few prayers for all Gods that I can use once onsite work starts back up and I have to contract my weekday rituals. They used to be 20 minutes, and now they’re 45 minutes. The 25-minute extension is, incidentally, the length of time my commute once took. Working onsite again will give a huge shock to my system for the first few weeks.

I’m also planning to read 35 books, up from 30. In the first two-thirds of the year, it’s going to be a lot of Platonism and poetry; in the final third, I will indulge in mythology. That means you can expect more commonplace book posts.

January will kick off with another long break from Twitter, ideally until the end of August, depending on how 2021 progresses. I want to work on self-discipline and focus in 2021, which comes down to doing exercises that build attention, getting back into meal planning/prep (which is also good for weight management and general health), and meditating according to a schedule.

I wish you all the best in the coming year.

🎉

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