Waiheke, Aotearoa New Zealand

October 4, 2020

13 Weeks.

I was recently planning out the launch of the sprint course, and looked at my calendar.

13 weeks.

There were just 13 weeks left in 2020.

I stared at the rows of days, and things just sort of stopped.

This whole year has been such a bizarro mix of fast-forward and slow-motion. Hours have been days, months, whole seasons. Time was fluid and sticky and all I've known in the everyday blur was, "Just keep moving. Just make it through 2020."

As I read stories and news, 2020 became shorthand for this whole strange experience of living through a pandemic. And somewhere in my mind, I internalized that. Make it through 2020, and it'll all be over. It felt like a magically expanding year, containing the whole of covid and every other disaster, not quite real, not bound to time like other years have been.

But then I stared down those 13 weeks. Thought about the month I usually take off from the letters in December, remembered the week of reflection and year-planning I did at the end of 2019 that feels both like a lifetime ago and yesterday.

I spun, looked over at that list, hanging on my wall - almost nothing checked off. A year that didn't turn out at all like I planned.

Didn't turn out. Maybe that's what jarred me so much.

For the first time, 2020 started to feel like a year that had happened. In the past, written, stone.

Sure, there were still a few chapters left to write. Big ones, both for me personally and for us as a world. But the book of this year was nearly done. A weird one. Liminal, substitute, a placeholder for a real year. But in the end, it would be be filed away in the library of our lives the same as any other.

It left me simultaneously grounded and floaty, and I'm not honestly sure what to make of it.

But I am sure of this:

These letters used to take you all across the world, into new cultures and places and languages every few months. And this year, they've been stuck. And you've stuck it out with me, here on a little island off a bigger island off in a corner of the Pacific so distant, people often crop it off of world maps.

And I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for coming with me, throughout the year.

For keeping me company and letting me keep you company, too. For letting me tell you a few stories as we've wandered through this strange, stormy year.

I so, so appreciate you.

Here's to the chapters we have left to write.

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw this week was just the break we all need. See, here in New Zealand, there's a tightly contested election - and you can vote. Help decide - who will win Penguin of the Year? 🤣🤣🤣

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