2021 - A lookback
Damn. Another year, another end. Time really does fly as you get older. There are some years, like 2020, that stretch forever, and years like 2021 that started fast, stretched, then blazed through. Sitting at the end of the year, one’s bound to think - what was there to look back at in this shithole of a year? But truly look, and there really was a lot. So much to be grateful for, so much to learn from, and so many instances to count our blessings.
One of the biggest changes this year was to learn to be more thankful. Its ironic, but its also straightforward that in a year with so much trauma and hellfire all around, you’re just bound to be thankful. To be alive, to see friends and family healthy and well. The absolute privilege with which I have lived has become more stark in these times, and one can only live with it with gratitude and thanking the stars.
2021 was also obviously, a year of loss. I hated this side of adulting, but its a threshold that’s inevitable. Mortality was a concept that was luckily not a big part of my life so far, but that changed drastically this year. Loss and pain and death were everywhere, including personal losses. Death was a near presence.
2021 was also about turning older. I turned 30 this year. Goddamn do I feel old. It also makes me question my angst when I see people tweeting “Turning 22, feeling like the end of the world already”. I guess the best years of my life are ahead of me, but that’s not something you can internalize really.
Like every year, this was a marquee one for all the TV I watched, the books I read, the films I experienced and all the podcasts I heard The best book I read this year was Lifespan by David Sinclair, who’s done a phenomenal job of explaining why we age, and how we can stop death. Death, which has always been an absolute inevitability. Its fascinating to see where we go from here on this subject - the interest on ending death grows more and more, and even the $$$ funding. Other honorable mentions include The Haunting of Hill House by the inimitable Shirley Jackson and Russian Silhouettes by Genna Sosonko, an old book on the personalities of 20th Century Russian chess Grandmasters. It kicked off my Russian reading obsession (3 books this year), and I’m sure there’s many more to come this year.
I grew to appreciate longer form podcasts a lot this year - The Lex Fridman Podcast, Sean Carroll’s Mindscapes and Huberman Lab were this year’s major podcasts to dwell in. And South Indian films were the highlight of the year honestly - I think Tamil films and Malayalam films have just improved the quality of their nuance and storytelling.
Overall, I think the year has been a lot of chaos and loss and struggle, but if the year has been about anything - its perserverance. Onto 2022!