Last Year’s Man

Last Year’s Man

Well here we are, another new year. Each year it seems like I say to myself “wow, another year, how did that happen” or “damn, this year went by so fast.” I was on a walk with Stephanie yesterday and we talked about 2022, but tried to keep it focused on the good things that happened. There was a lot of good, sprinkled in with some struggles. That is called life. And now I’m saying to myself “Electric word, ‘life’, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time….”

Anyway, I’m listing some (not all) of my 2022 highlights below, in no particular order. Yesterday’s walk will come into play here.

Grateful for Reading:
At the beginning of 2022, I made a vow (dare I say resolution) to read more books than I did in 2021, and I did that. The bar was low, as I only read 3 books in 2021 and I suspect that may be a low point in my reading life. This year I read 11 books. I will list 10 of them here:

  • “Going There” by Katie Couric – excellent, honest memoir, she isn’t afraid to expose her weaknesses (or strengths)
  • “The Moth in the Iron Lung – A Biography of Polio” – very interesting look at Polio, though the end was unnecessarily preachy about vax avoidance
  • “Fighting My Way to the Top” by Shawn Thornton – I met him on several occasions for work stuff, super nice guy. Good story.
  • “Lights Out” by Ted Koppel – really made me think and assess a few things. See here.
  • “When Crisis Hits Suburbia” by Ted Riely – read this after reading Koppel book. A little over the top about “prepping” but also some sound advice
  • “The Nineties” by Chuck Klosterman – foremost pop culture writer on watershed moments in the decade. A gas to read.
  • “Devil in a Coma” by Mark Lanegan – a shorter Lanegan book about his time with Covid. I’m still so sad about his death
  • Hello Molly – A Memoir” by Molly Shannon – summer vaca book and terrific, harrowing journey. I love her.
  • “Brain on Fire – My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalen – frightening, compelling book about your body/brain abandoning you
  • “When to Rob a Bank” by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner – collection of blog posts from the “Freakonomics” guys. So great

Grateful for Listening:
Of course music still plays a gigantic, meaningful role in my life. Here’s a few things I enjoyed this year:

  • Wet Leg (self-titled) – released early in the year, maybe the most pure fun I’ve had listening to an album in years.
  • Built to Spill, “When the Wind Forgets Your Name” – so rock solid and dependable, every time. What a band.
  • Spoon, “Lucifer on the Sofa” – I had not loved their last couple of releases, this one brought me back to them. Rhythmic and excellent.
  • Deer Tick live at The Sinclair, December 12 – i can’t get enough of this band’s music, especially live. There’s a comfort and happiness with them.
  • Black Keys “Dropout Boogie” – another remarkably consistent band, gritty, fun, bluesy.
  • Julia Jacklin “Pre-pleasure” – how she still flys under the radar is stunning to me. One of my favroite emerging talents in years
  • Pavement live, at the Boch Center, September 28 – I hadn’t seem them in maybe 20+ years, so it was emotional, they’re a top 5 band for me

Grateful for Working
I am in my sixth year at Avid as VP of Web & Ecommerce and I continue to be thoroughly stimulated and challenged by work. What more could I ask for? My scattered brain loves bouncing between different things and my current job is perfect for that. I love all the challenges it brings, from forecasting/budgeting to managing a team of 15 excellent people to helping drive and optimize a digital experience for a global buisness. It’s rewarding, befuddling, funny and challenging.

Grateful for a Lot
This part is probably the most important. As 2022 progressed, a very interesting thing happened to me. I’ve become more grateful in general for all kinds of things. I’ve really leaned into this. I’ve learned to let frustrations go far quicker than I historically have. If something crazy happens at work, for example, I don’t let negatively linger about it – I remind myself that I am grateful to have a job and if there’s other people involved in some kind of frustration, I just pivot and wish them well in my mind. They may be having a bad day or struggling with something I don’t know about or can’t comprehend. If someone cuts me off driving, same thing. I am here to tell you this works.

Not that I wasn’t grateful before, but I’m discovering that when you really focus on changing your mindset to be more grateful and having a positive vision, it reverberates around your whole life. I realize this is all very “woo-woo” to say, but it’s absolutely true. Be grateful for your family, friends, health and well-being. It truly pays off. Some of this realization has occurred through some work I’m doing on myself in a somewhat formal way but even before that I could feel myself leaning this way. Adjust the mindset. And it’s really worked.

Let’s talk about positive vision for a second. My neighbor sends out an email at the end of every year with a list of his favorite music and I received the 2022 email yesterday (Dec 31). I noticed that Midlake was on his 2022 list. Midlake is a band that is not very well-known that I also happen to love. Back in 2012 one of leaders of the band quit – the band soldiered on – but I’ve been keeping tabs on that musician who left, hoping and waiting ever since that he would make some music on his own. But he hasn’t. And I wrote back to my neighbor and we were both thrilled that we knew someone else who loved Midlake and how we both really wanted this guy (Tim Smith) who we haven’t heard from in 10 years to release some music. And just last night after this exchange, I said to myself that I’m grateful for Midlake still being around and I hope that TIm Smith was ok. This morning at 8:53am, on January 1st, about 14 hours after having that thought, this email showed up in my inbox.

Is this a coincidence that it’s been 10 years since Tim Smith has released any music at all and that yesterday I had this very specific thought and then this email arrived hours after? The practical skeptic in me says yes, absolutely a coincidence. Perhaps the evolving me doesn’t.

Now, I can’t tell you one way or another if anyone has noticed in observing me that I’ve become more grateful, positive, appreciative or perhaps spiritual (and I don’t mean GOD spiritual, I have my issues with formal religion. But I’m not focused on this self-work to enhance how people feel about me. Any perceived improvement in how people view me is (or will be) gravy. I’m doing it for me, because I think I need it. But I can tell you that in 2023 you’ll see some other stuff coming from me that maybe you (or I) didn’t expect. I’m looking forward to it, and grateful that I have the health, mindset, ability and wherewithal to pursue it.

.