Waiheke, Aotearoa New Zealand

January 3, 2021

The List.

The past Wednesday was List Day, my crazy annual tradition of looking back and looking forward.

Like every year, I got up, made coffee, and then walked over to the electrical box for the house, and turned all the circuits off. Phone, laptop, anything with a battery went next.

The air fell quiet, the omnipresent hum of the 21st century disappeared, and I sat down with my thoughts and memories.

I thought back to January 1st of last year. Started when I woke up, tried to remember as much as I could about what happened that day. Then the second. The third.

I walked through the memories for January, slippery and elusive, slotted them into order. What happened first? What then? Wait, that was February. But then what happened in the third week?

As I worked through the year, I found that 2020 was a fascinating mix of months where I could give you an almost day-by-day breakdown of each day and months where I had trouble finding any memories in them. Did I start building the course in August? September? June? October?

More than any other factor, it was clear that novelty mattered. Times where new things happened I could place, feel the month ticking by. Times where it all looked the same were a blur.

In a way, that wasn't a surprise. Maximizing change and forcing novelty and exploration were a big part of why I started slow-traveling the world in the first place all those years ago. But it was different to see the contrast in a stationary life, entire months I couldn't properly account for. And I didn't like it.

November. December. Last week. Yesterday. This morning. Coffee. Power off. Here. Now.

The light was fading, and it was time for a break.

I bar-b-qued up some veggie burgers, watched the sky turn, and then grabbed my favorite pen and some paper.

It was dark now. Fumbling, my hands found that box of tea-light candles.

Matches. Fingertips. Smoke.

And two-dozen little flames breathed to life, nudging the darkness back out.

My partner and I sat down with blank pages, beloved pens, and started to think about our lists.

Every year, I have a theme, usually cheesy and rhyming and as over the top as I can make it.

But as I thought about the year behind, where whole months were missing, and the year ahead, where I'm not sure if or when travel will happen or so much of what 2021 will look like, I found myself with a much quieter theme.

Seek new experiences.

The first item - have and document one new experience every day - peeled from pen to page, and the list started. Hours spun by, many beverages were consumed, and line by line, my 2021 list filled, spilled, one page, then two.

There was laughter. Bold predictions and bolder promises. The slow dimming of five-hour candles fading out, late into the night.

The next morning, I woke, turned the power back on, and brewed another cup of coffee. I glanced down into the living room, filled with the detritus of the evening's festivities. Spread around the room were half-finished snacks, empty wine bottles, a blanket I don't remember getting out, and for some reason, an outdoor chair.

But there in the middle, pen pinning it down - was my list.

2021, here we come.

Let's go get it. :)

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was fireworks over the bay near my house, and a chorus of cheers from across the valley to welcome in 2021. However and wherever you celebrated the year turning over, cheers. We made it. :)

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