Between two temple eaves with shining brass details, the sky is filled with highly defined puffy white clouds that look like they are illustrated

I think this photo is my fav of the year.

Historically my annual “best of” posts are a roundup of the best books and film I consumed, but this year I would like to add a little bit more about personal developments. With my father-in-law passing in 2022, this year was about cleaning up the estate, healing, and enjoying Japan before returning to Canada.

We were able to get quite a bit of travel in: Tanegashima, Kagoshima, and Kirishima in the south; a summer break in Iki; and in the north Iwate, Fukushima and Aomori. For work I took two trips to Canada and had the privilege to visit Istanbul. It was a good year for travel, though I am kicking myself for missing out on Causal Islands and I was hoping to visit Germany at some point this year.

Losing 5 kilograms has been on my annual TODO list since Iki, but I could not justify locking myself up in a gym multiple times a week when my time in Japan is limited and I could be out seeing things. We are in the home stretch, the last few months until we leave Japan. This time it has a feeling of finality since we leave no parents and no apartment behind. When we leave Japan this time we will do so without leaving any roots. We are on the verge of one volume closing and a whole new book beginning.

40 Questions

Last month I discovered Steph Ango’s 40 Questions, a framework for annual reflection. I used it to think about my year and found it useful. I will share a few of my answers here publicly:

Did anyone close to you die?
For the first time in 4 years I can say “No!”

Who did you miss?
Lots of people. This year has been a lonely one for me. This is probably the biggest reason I look forward to returning to Canada in 2024: to hang out with my friends in person. Now, we had some friends come visit us in Japan and I met old friends on my travels to Canada and Turkey. I was especially happy to share Kyoto with people from “back home” (none of my family could handle the air travel), but maybe that oasis of excitement ended up making me feel even more lonesome.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
100 Rabbits, who I met in person this year. They live much further along the ethical lifestyle spectrum than I can, which I admire. As a society we need examples like this. I even looked at buying a boat this summer!

What political issue stirred you the most?
Not quite sure about specific events, since there were so many, but in terms of overall trends, I got a lot more into anarchist philosophy.

What valuable life lesson did you learn this year?
How pretty much everything is a coordination problem, and we have to figure out how to work together in this world. This drives my interest in both governance and anarchism. It also leads to my conviction that the way I can fight climate change is by working for a better, interoperable, and unitary internet. The internet is the best global coordination platform the world has ever known, and we are going to need it if we are going to solve the climate crisis.

What is a quote that sums up your year?

“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist.”
― John Maynard Keynes

A note on the Buddhist path

One of my goals for 2023 was doing more sutta study, which I did with a group of upasika from all over the world via a Zoom reading club in the early part of the year. We had weekly meetings on each chapter of The Island. This actually blends in with another trend for 2023: upāsaka training. During all of 2022 I was committed to a year of being an upāsaka, and in 2023 I actually kinda surprisingly pretty much continued that path. I meditated nearly every day this year (missed just 4 days), only drank alcohol four times, and still did about 20 uposatha days where I committed to the 8 precepts (during the upāsaka year I did about 70).

Best of Reading

Okay, now on to the more traditional annual media wrap-up.

Of my 30 book goal I read 36 books, which is not the most I have ever done, but I had a lot of podcasts to listen to this year. (24 of those finished books were in audio!)

My book club only met 3 times this year, but we read my favourite fiction book of the year: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. I am not a gamer, but I am a Gen Xer and came of age during this time. The emotion just sucked me in. The book played me like a game. And I recognize a lot of the work relationship stuff from my time in startups. An excellent read.

cover of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

For non-fiction I read a number of important books, including classics like Ostrom’s Governing the Commons. New releases like Crack-Up Capitalism and Underground Empire: How America Weaponized the World Economy really captured some of the ailments of the world we live in, but I think I enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation even more since it presents solutions to make things better.

Cover of the Internet Con

Best of Watching

I did not watch much cinema this year, but I did finally see 2022 Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All at Once which blew me away. I saw it while in Canada in January, and as soon as it was available in theatres in Japan I took my wife. Many tears were shed. We watched it again in September. The Daniels captured so much about the Asian immigrant experience in North America.

Movie poster for Everything Everywhere All at Once

Most of my movie-watching time this year was with the kids. The new Spider-Man and Barbie were good. I did enjoy the popcorn-fun of Dungeons & Dragons. When I did get some screentime alone at home it was mostly television. I caught up on the last two seasons of Ted Lasso which was my fav tv series of this year by far. It hit me on a deep level making me consider my personal leadership style and more importantly my relationship to my own mental health. Football is life!

The Numbers for 2023

🖋 16 posts on the old blog and 9 long-form posts on the new microblog which I started posting to in October

✉️ 12 email monthly newsletters sent

📸 2184 photos and vids on Flickr

📚 36 books read

🎞 29 films watched

Previous annual wrap-ups

Posted on the old Wordpress blog

My best to you in the new year!