It's not dated: go ahead and celebrate that milestone
your GP texted you an annual reminder for your physical. but you didn't write that down, did you?
A new year is coming! You could make plans now.
The 2022 planner I purchased arrived in the mail this week. So, I did what I will always do with a new planner: write in appointments, reminders, and milestones in the monthly spreads.
This ritual opens me up to be introspective. It gets me energized about the happenings for the new year. I reflect on what's happened in the past year. I contemplate what I'm grateful for. I think about how lucky I am.
Where were you?
I thought about where I was at this point of time in the year 2020; the year 2019, and 2018. I mulled over what has been successful for my mental well-being and my happiness. The ritual of looking forward to upcoming plans makes me step back and pat myself on the back. I like to consider myself a lucky dude. I write anniversaries in the new planner. For example:
when I started my first full time job
when I quit my first full time job
when I started my first new job in NYC
when I quit my first job in NYC
Yes, those anniversaries are about work.
“I’m writing about art and work so you don't have to focus on both of those.”
That’s the point of the newsletter. Keep up.
There are other anniversaries to pencil in, too. The first Brooklyn apartment I lived in - that’s a milestone. There was a house party to commemorate the occasion. It’s wild because all I did was make a bet with myself. I took a suitcase; I shoved my belongings in it, and I moved in.
That bookmarked a new transition in my adulthood. I closed the door on an old life. I moved on with a giddy jaunt, I proceeded, with graceful steps.
I could’ve walked into a partition or I could've bumped into a shoddy floor lamp without looking. I had no idea what direction I was walking in. I just figured you move ahead.
It’s not a unique narrative to move to a big city like Nueva York. Transplants that move to big cities aren’t unique. I know people that migrate for work or for family. If anything, people leaving the cities during the pandemic was normal for 20201.
I’ve been thinking of a place
I name two of these catalysts that lunged me into the move to Brooklyn.
I took a solo vacation to California. It was the first-ever solo trip where I was on the other side of the country.
A co-worker of mine died during the year I was saving up extra cash.
The purpose of the Cali trip was to be by myself. I explored Los Angeles and San Francisco on my time. I wasn’t tied down to another person’s schedule. I meandered on beaches. I saw comics test out material at the Laugh Factory. I gorged on yummy tacos. I chose the restaurants where I inhaled my brunch. Oh, and there were museums.
A lot of museums.
I needed the reset for my head to be empty and to be in the present. I didn’t think about work back at home. I didn’t think about the other responsibilities that waited for me.
I journaled my needs and wants. I wrote down the day-to-day activities of my vacation in the weekly spread of my 2018 planner. It was the month of December. I got giddy about unboxing my 2019 planner that was shipped. I envisioned how the upcoming new year should look and should feel.
I spent many weekends in Brooklyn. I would bolt out of the office on a Friday evening and make the commute down to the city.
I figured, OK, I should just move there. My friends lived down there. Why not?
The other catalyst was a person on my team passed away from a terminal illness. It was sudden. One moment, they took paid time off. I told them to enjoy their vacation. The next moment, our office needed additional coverage because we didn’t know when they would return.
The moment that followed, their mother stepped into our office to share with us the details of the funeral viewing. It was a lot to digest.
Oddly, I shared uplifting customer service with their mother. I reminisced with the mom on the joy their child brought to our office. You do that for a person who lost a loved one: you go over the memories. It perplexed me that the person who passed away was my age. I couldn’t shake that off.
It solidified my choice to not throw extra cash at a down payment for a car. Instead, the money was spent on the first and last month’s rent for a Brooklyn apartment. It was a bet I made against myself. I made the right decision.
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The Today Series
I looked back on those significant dates I recorded in my past planners. They’re an accumulation of notes that are segmented pieces of time. Though, I give meaning to those dates. The dates matter because I give meaning to them.
On Kawara was a painter. I remember seeing in person one of his paintings from the Today series. The series consists of almost 3,000 panels2. Each canvas has the date of its creation affixed to the panel’s center. The colors of the panels varied from the monochromatic (black and grey) to the vibrant (red and blue)3. Sizes of the panels varied from the huge to the small.
Plus, he fabricated boxes lined with newspaper. It wasn’t a scrap newspaper.
He lined the box with the newspaper printed on that day. So, the date of the panel’s creation is superimposed on the canvas. And, the newspaper released on the day of the painting’s origination doggy-eared the date.
Kawara kept up at this painting practice from 1966 until his passing in 20144.
He carried out the habit for so many years. He made a painting and slapped the date onto it with brushstrokes. There were days he skipped painting. I get it.
There are habits I commit to, but then I fall behind. For example, I would be lying if I did yoga each morning. Or, that I journal each day. The habit is meaningful but life will get in the way.
Kawara skipped some days. There would be gaps in the sequence of paintings. Though, he kept up at the practice.
Kawara took a canvas, painted today’s date, and boxed it away.
Making meaning of dates
Dates can be arbitrary on a calendar. But, we attach meaning to them. It’s a marker for significant events. I’m not talking about just the holidays. Anniversaries and milestones are personal.
It invokes feelings that range from the bittersweet to the energetic and everything in between.
I visualize what would’ve happened if I didn’t make bets with myself. What friends could I have surrounded myself with if I had moved to Brooklyn earlier? How about later? I like my support network now. Would I be missing out if I took less risks?
Remember, I just brought a suitcase down and I said fuck it. I needed to change my environment to learn and grow.
It’s coming up for the one-year anniversary I moved to Virginia. When that milestone approaches, I’ll do as I do. I contemplate on it; I get introspective with it, I relive it. And then, I move forward.
I’m sentimental, and what?
I’ve annexed a place in my brain and in my heart the gravity of certain dates. I’m a Capricorn. It’s my duty to celebrate traditions. Bite me.
I’ll sprinkle in a note I wrote down from a wonderful therapy session. For context, I imagined I was doggy-paddling in the water without knowing the direction of the closest shore. I was dreading what I wanted for my next job. Do I have to pick another career? Career; the wretched C-word. Anyhow,
Take stock of what has been meaningful for you. Make space to write what you’ve been proud of. Write down what you’ve been grateful for. It’ll be a way to re-train yourself to not see it’s all doom and gloom. Not every potential outcome is a catastrophe. Be gentle.
I mentioned how it’s easy to fall out of habits. If you normally journal but then you just stopped, you’re not alone.
One reason I love watching Succession is I feel like I’m a voyeur watching how toxic rich people behave. Wealthy people have toxic and fucked up problems. In this opinion piece, this therapist’s clientele consists of the wealthy elite. He doesn’t watch the show because it feels too much like another therapy session.
Black families in Northern Virginia are being left out in the conversation on race at school board meetings. This profile on a family in Loudoun County shared their experience.
Today is December 01st, World AIDS Day. PolitiFact refuted this commentator’s claim that “it was ‘inconceivable’ that gay men would have been seen as ‘pariahs’ during the AIDS crisis”. Shout out to the artistic contributions of ACT UP.
Thanks for listening,
Jennings, “The case for large cities in a post-pandemic world”.