Surveying my last year’s goals for 2020, I aimed for balance, community, stillness, and getting lost. Balance meant putting exhausting work into a more manageable context; community hoped for dating, more friends, and drinking less; stillness meant slowing down and looking up at what might follow LEDs; getting lost suggested following brother Ray in the summer to Cape Town to live for a time in Africa. The pandemic wrenched those intentions. Dating did not happen and friendships faltered. Working from home meant working all the time. I did enjoy the senforced stillness of shelter-in-place, but I tinkered more, not less, with LEDs. Travel did not happen.
What about 2021?
Make the Job Manageable, but Be Open to New Opportunities
I’ve mentioned too often, too recently my need to find other work. I find my current Directorship fraught with managerial conflict under poor leadership. The problem might not be this particular job, but my attitude towards it. I plan for 2021 to bask in work’s positive aspects, while overcoming and escaping its detriments. Hey, I can work from home most of the time; I enjoy the day-to-day tasks of coding, planning, and chemistry; I’ve built a glowing reputation; I manage a tremendous team of Tyler and Puzhou; the company pays me grandly. If I can shift my attitudes, reduce my workload, take projects less seriously, I just might thrive and—possibly maybe—this job could be the last job I ever need. Focus on building out the large-scale project to learn how to set up a scientific process. Ask for help.
Battle less. Work may be full of stressful conflict, but take these skirmishes less personally. Learn how to work with, not against difficult people, magnifying their strengths. Turn down the volume. Pay back with mentorship to promote others to lead. As wise Rikke counseled on her last day at work, “Remember, it is only a job.”
On the other hand, if other, better work opportunities arise, be open to switching jobs. Realize, however, that starting a new job requires a lot of learning and face-time in the office, both difficult during a pandemic. The second half of 2021 may be the season for leaving work for extensive travel. See whether friend or family plans to move abroad.
I’m not going to renew my annual intention to date. I’m shy in a pandemic. At my advanced age, my sex drive has collapsed. Fortunately, I am no longer manic to sleep with others.
Instead, cultivate good friends, new friends. Practice talking to strangers. Work on empathy. Make life more than just about yourself.
Spend time late spring with your Dad. Continue writing to him.
Maintain Healthy Habits
I thrived during the pandemic with an exercise routine, lots of home cooking, and a sober October. As the world opens up again, keep healthy. Run every week to the ocean. Continue yoga to tune up my fragile body. Drink less. You say this every year and last year it actually happened. Have more sober days.
Figure out What to Do With All Those LEDs
Every year, I posit that this is my last year building LED sculptures. 2021 may indeed be my last year. Finish the Mandala series. Reprogram the Roses on an Arduino and block out their cells with black borders. Take apart the Sunflowers, dismantle the poorer projects. Find venues to show new and old pieces. Explore inflatable art.
Hit up the Balkans or the Baltics. In summer, visit either Alaska or the 3 remaining continental states (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi). Party in Europe. Camp in Great Basin National Park. Spend Christmas in New Zealand or Buenos Aires.
Two Year Plan
Start planning for your last two years in San Francisco. What’s left to do? Where to move next? How to enjoy San Francisco to its fullest? How to get sick of this dirty, dirty city?