(started 24 dec 2015)
So I’ve made it through another year. Not bad. It’s probably been legitimately the best year of my life so far, though I’m not feeling particularly thrilled. I think because I haven’t yet achieved some good stretch goals. I could’ve read more. Watched more good movies. Met more friends. Been more effective at work. 
Thinking about death. I’m often conscious of the possibility that I might not get to live as long as I’d like to. Wishful thinking makes me hope I’ll live to 110, but it’s entirely possible that I won’t make it past the next year, or decade. I wonder if there’s an actual probability to be put on that.
What do I want to do before I die? I used to have loftier ambitions- to achieve some sort of superstardom, some sort of great success. To leave a massive legacy that’s valuable to others. That would still be nice, but I’ve come to think that that’s a sort of ecapist, deferential sort of thinking.
It’s important to be happy with your life in the present moment because that’s the only moment you have. The past and the future factor into the present, so it’s tough to fully enjoy something if you know it has nasty consequences. The dark playground gets less and less viable as I accumulate more experience and evidence that unearned play is unsatisfying, that postponed work becomes more unhealthy-stressful at an exponential rate.
So in 2016 I’d like to minimize the amount of time I spend idling in the dark playground. If I don’t feel up to doing work, I should take a conscientious break and just rest, meditate, exercise, relax. But I shouldn’t be playing games or surfing the web mildlessly, looking for some drama to get involved in. In 2016 I need to be much more selective about the drama I opt into. I need to be more proactive about learning the skills and acquiring the knowledge that I’ll need in order to realize my desired end-states.
Spending less time in the dark playground and more time being proactive both are grounded in similar desires- a desire for less unnecessary guilt, stress, frustration, anxiety. I have been suffering needlessly from a background radiation of guilt/stress/anxiety ever since I started schooling, and now that I’m a relatively responsible working adult I’d like to be rid of it. I’d like to witness what it’s like to wake up in the morning and not feel like I’m playing catch up with my life.
In 2016 I want to worry even less about the opinions and concerns of others. I’d like to get to know myself even better, to have more frequent conversations with myself because I am the most important person in my life. The problem of opportunity cost and limited resources means that I have to assertively say no to many things in order to get the few things that I really want.
(continued 9th feb 2016)
I’ve definitely already spent some time in the dark playground. I don’t think it’s a crippling, shocking, horrible amount, but it’s more than I’d like. But the good thing maybe is that I’m not overcome with guilt about it. Really, it’s more of… okay, that’s what’s happened, and I need to make up for it now. I have an obligation and duty to myself to write and publish word vomits, and I’m doing that. I have a duty to my spouse to make time for our marriage, and I have been doing that. I have a duty to the organization that employs me to do good work, and I intend to do that– I’ll be doing more work after I wake up tomorrow, and I’ll continue to review and improve what I’m doing.
I do think it’s fair to say that 2015 was the best year of my life. My challenge for myself now is to make 2016 the NEW best year of my life, and idealistically, to continue to be able to say that for myself year after year with each passing year. That’s a lofty goal but it should be achievable with diligence and reflection– skills that I want to develop.
I’ve been meeting more people and I like that. This is the year that I want to spend building relationships with new people who I want to invite to the table of my life. The earlier I do this the better, because relationships definitely benefit from having long lives (all else held constant). It’s good to know people for a long period of time, through shifting circumstances.
What else do I want to think about in terms of annual time scales? I guess information diets– I want to read good things, watch good movies and shows. I want to start writing short stories of my own. Can I commit to a specific amount? Can I do 50 or 100 short stories in a year? If I incorporate them into these word vomits, then maybe. It would be two birds with one stone. But I worry that that might be a little premature. I’m adding it to my list, and then I’ll see how I feel about it week after week.
So the recurring theme seems to be that if I want to grow, and make “gains” in my life, the fastest and best way to do that is simply to reflect a lot more. To get back on the wagon after I’ve fallen off. To limit the amount of time that I feel sorry for myself and bounce back into performing well, taking care of business, getting shit done. To ship things faster, and to ship more things. I think I can do it. It’ll be better done than said.
 I am aware that this will always be the case to some degree. But the point is that there are many degrees, and I’m not satisfied with the degree that I currently inhabit. I feel like I’m at about 30%. I’ll be happier at about 80%.