Farther Away Than They Seem 🔭

Twenty-twenty-three in a word was reparative, rested-through with healing and repair of different sorts: reconnecting with longtime friends, quieting the email inbox and impulses toward glinty but ever-toilsome careerism, and too, physically, sticking with the trouble of massage and physical therapy regimens, and making a certain amount of peace with the notably prevalent Western mythology that embodied life is possibly pain-free, when it turns out that time wags a finger and says no it’s not.

I re-read those resolutions from 2017, a good enough set for an echo:

more laughter, longer beardgrowth, occasional blog entries, regular running, new tattoo, Grand Canyon, more kimchi, early yoga and earlier meditation, watercolors, heartier alliances, coalition building, political resilience, generosity and kindness, when to habituate and when to digress and when to rest, longer olive branch, mightier dynamite, more olive branch dynamite, cayenne hot chocolate, eclectickler reading, more drawing, bigger optimism, more sunshine, and more laughter.

From “Resolving in 2017

Running is out, but there is biking, swimming, and yoga ahead. No Grand Canyon coming up. Olive branch and dynamite were administrative tactics, and although I will have a brief interim administrative stint in 2024, all that’s needed for a few months is a steady hand and a positive outlook. I will be doing well if I continue the reading and writing and drawing rhythms that found cadence over the second half of 2023. Cayenne hot chocolate is always a sure, why-not treat, but it’s better enjoyed infrequently, every third month, let’s say.

In numbers, 2023 reduces to the following easily tabulated scores. There’s always more in that hazy margin of activities that don’t deserve to be record kept for future lookbacks in future orbits: hours around the house doing this or that, the repairs and painting in the shed, cooking, mowing, and so on.

  • Email confirmations tell me I spent 40 hours in the pool at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center in 2023.
  • Forty rides totaling 25 hours, 41 minutes on the stationary bike, according to Strava. Most of these were in the cold weather months, Jan-Feb and Nov-Dec.
  • 20 hours, 32 minutes with the healthy back set of exercises, each on its own standing as a 16-17 minute clip.
  • This averages 100 minutes each week of fitness activity, but these figures are not especially flat considering that some months saw a lot of activity, and others, less.
  • There were 29 blog entries in 2023, more than I’d posted in any other year since 2011, back when del.icio.us bookmarks were automatically setting up at EWM. I also posted a handful of entries at the RIDE Blog for ENGL6344, but I haven’t included those in this tally.
  • I drew 41 new illustrations, including the last six in the Cirque du Felinity set. ProCreate doesn’t make it especially easy to get to the time-spent ticker for each image, but these average maybe 2.5 hours each, which I would crudely extrapolate to 100 hours of drawing. But this, too, falls very unevenly across the months. Not as much drawing in the summer months, for example.

I’m tempted to extend this to workside scores for committees and teaching, mentoring and advising, review tasks, letters, and more, but I will resist that temptation, and, anyway, Faculty Activity Reports are due at the end of January, so I will have cause to look back at 2023 through the lens of productivity. There were events, like rallying for a response to the proposed landfill nearby and like listing and selling the Ypsi condo, but these, too, are difficult to quantify. Hours pile up. One other outstanding impression as we flip the calendar to ’24 is that I was in Michigan in every month except April, and that meant seven round trips by car, one half trip (returning to Va. on January 5), and one roundtrip flight for a campus visit, so 3,500 miles on the Subaru and occasional twinges of fatigue from packing and from 120 hours in the car. This is one score I’d like to be a tiny bit lower in 2024, though I do miss Ph. and Is. and T. mightily when I am not in Michigan.

That’s it; that’s the look-back roundup. May 2024 clear way, wiser and kinder as we go.