There has never been a more pressing time to be alive. So keep going.

© 2020 by John Schengber

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13: The Last Year



Given the opening of the new year, I decided to sit down and reflect on the one that just came to a close. I started off by writing a stream of consciousness summary of everything that happened, mixed in with a couple of things that I realized or discovered along the way. I share what I came up with below. The exercise didn't result in a masterpiece or revelation, but I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I was surprised by some of the things that I remembered, and even more surprised by some of the things that I forgot.


I'd encourage anyone to do something reflective as 2019 begins and promises to be just as full of challenge and beauty as any year before. Email me or comment below if you'd like to share your perspective.



In 2018


I explored Southeast Asia.

I learned and wrote about the Rohingya crisis.

The Rohingya crisis continued.


I learned to freedive.

I surfed the best wave of my life.

I met my best friends in Sri Lanka.


I moved to Richmond.

My sister got married.

My friend and I took a leap.


I was ensnared in a manipulative trap.

The manipulative trap was revealed.

I tried to be decisive and gracious.

I have resisted temptation since.


I entered into a dark depression.

I began to resent my best friend.

I destroyed my phone and isolated myself.

I buried myself in work.


I got worse.


I questioned who I was and everything I had done.

I toyed with regret.

I wondered whether I should keep going.

I told myself to keep going.


I kept going to the river.


I learned how to write a narrative essay.

I interviewed my best friends about losing their parents.

I finished a magazine.


I learned how important personal space is.

I forgot how to write poetry.

I was uncomfortable in my own home.

I moved out.


I turned a corner towards happiness.

I no longer glorify sadness.

I respect sadness, but try to keep my distance.


I bought a new piano.

I am now no better at piano.

I moved into a new home.

I am now much better, but not perfect.


I realized that, with less motorcycles, I sleep more.

I realized that I like working in structures that provide expertise based in experience, not hierarchy.

I realized that I like Richmond the more time I spend here, just like I did in DC.


I finally admitted that water is my favorite thing on earth and I prefer it to the mountains.

I decided that my perfect gym would have a rock wall and a pool and absolutely no treadmills.


I met a girl and realized that I am not doomed.

I saw a halloween parade that wasn’t tacky and involved no candy.

I went surfing over Thanksgiving.

I started writing poems again.

I never stopped taking pictures.


It became too cold to run barefoot on the river trail.

It became just cold enough to snow a foot more than anyone expected.


I realized that hot weather incentivizes stillness whereas cold weather incentivizes motion and physicality.

This has made winter so much more reasonable.


I have used a car only thrice to go to the grocery store.

I know exactly how many red peppers can fit in my panniers. (Twelve).

I never grew tired of beans or yogurt.


I turned 26 on the 26th of December.

I got a trumpet on my golden birthday.

In my 25th year I was separated from my crutch of certainty.

I was gifted the ongoing railing of family and friendship.

And with that I have continued to walk.