2018 - A lookback

2018 - what a maddening, gobsmacking, utterly hellish year. We’ve all lived 10 lives since it started and can barely wait for it to end. Yet there was cause for celebration, moments to be thankful for, and times of awe and wonder. It was a year of finding new interests, new ideas to subscribe to, and new passions to pursue. There was so much to learn, so much to understand and so much to admire.

If I could sum up the year in a word, it would be - growth. I grew a lot this year, mentally and spiritually. 26 was an age of unshackling the young and trying to adult. It was a year of ‘finding myself’, that tiring cliche that rings so true. In most of my writings this year, I wrote about the anxiety of finding fulfillment in work, or lack thereof. 2018 was about finding meaningful work and being part of something that counts, and to that extent I have succeeded. I have never been hungrier. In this post, I want to share some of the best things that happened to me this year - the best books I read, the best of cinema, peak TV and more. I hope this post inspires you to look back at your year gone by, or at least helps you with some recommendations to read and watch.

Some of the best articles I read this year were:

  1. How Superheroes made movie stars expendable
  2. What does immersing yourself in a book do to your brain?
  3. Inside a Mumbai police station, everyone is a character, and the city a story
  4. Can reading make you happier? - The best piece I read this year
  5. A man has to BE something - Hunter S. Thompson’s letter
  6. The deliberate awfulness of social media

The best podcasts I heard in 2018
From listening to podcasts sporadically, my consumption rose to almost 6-8 hours a week, thanks to my commute. I’ve become addicted to podcasts, and it was easily one of the best decisions I took this year.

  1. The Secret History of the Future by Slate and the Economist - wonderful 10 part show on futuristic ideas like VR, self-driving cars and how we look unto history to understand their ramifications
  2. Shunya One by IVM Podcasts - An amazing show on Indian startups and the astonishing things they are doing. Incredibly inspiring, to say the least.
  3. Making Oprah - 3 part series on the history and making of Oprah’s show
  4. Stephen Fry’s Great Leap Years - Fry is a treasure to cherish.
  5. Making Obama - 6 part series on Obama’s rise in Chicago politics
  6. Houston We Have a Podcast by NASA

Best books I read in 2018
From a target of reading 50 books, I read only 27, much less than the 36 I read last year. I barely read any fiction, so I’m only going to list out my favorite non-fiction books.

  1. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe - a thrilling book from start to end. Can’t praise this enough
  2. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough - The sheer grit, effort, pure genius of the Wright Brothers was so palpable and so wholesome. Loved this book.
  3. Word by Word by Kory Stamper - my favorite read of 2018. Amazing, brilliant and witty, can never stop recommending.

Best Content of 2018: 2018 was the year of peak storytelling across all formats, and I can’t pick favorites. We’re so lucky to be alive at such a point.

  1. Wild Wild Country by Netflix
  2. BoJack Horseman by Netflix
  3. First Man
  4. BlackKklansman
  5. Nanette by Netflix
  6. Homecoming by Amazon Prime Video

The best thing that happened to me this year:
One of the best things that happened to me this year was in my US trip late December. I was leaving L.A after an amazing trip. It was late evening. Suddenly, the night sky lit up in a blaze of sliver and white light, and a bright spot in the air shone upon the entire city. It was at once, beautiful and glorious and scary. It seemed like an alien invasion, or a nuclear explosion. And then we saw the light separate into two, and it became even more bizarre. Cars stopped mid-way, with everyone staring up spellbound. And then we realized - it wasn’t the Silver Surfer, it was a SpaceX rocket launch!
Its hard for me to describe just how fantastic and amazing it looked. It was a mesmerizing watch; a transformative event. Its so rare to watch a rocket launch, and then watching a Falcon9 roar into the sky was a proper life event. I’m going to cherish this for quite some time. Here’s the full video on Youtube.

My shaky-hand click:

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The best piece I wrote this year: One can never be happy with what one writes, and how much one writes. But 2018 was an improvement on 2017. My piece on loving what you do, and creating art was the best thing I wrote this year, on Valentine’s Day.

I’m hoping 2019 continues as a time of exploration and growth - personal and professional. I really just want to focus on travelling more this year, and run more. In Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice, when walking through Wonderland looking around her and cries, ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’. I have always thought I was perennially curious, and I hope 2019 helps me satisfy and stoke that curiosity. I’m leaving the rest up to happy accidents and strange occurrences in the night sky to inspire and shape me.

 
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