What did I learn, realize or find during this year of 2022? A tough year for many, once again, as the shadow of COVID expands and contracts in direct correlation to human behavior. I learned that the United States inches closer to a full blown, post-truth society. Ninety three percent of FOX viewers vote Republican while ninety five percent of MSNBC viewers vote Democratic. That isn’t news, truth or journalism. That is political theatre for profit. And the American public laps it up like Bud Light at a NASCAR event. But this situation wasn’t much of a surprise, nor did I learn much from it other than what I already knew. We are under-educated, prone to conspiracy and many of us can’t find our country on a map. I don’t hold high hopes for us, at least in the short term. I feel we must hit rock bottom first. Then and only then, if we survive, can we rebuild in a more illuminated fashion. (Not holding my breath.)
A lot more, actually, and this I find incredibly motivating. My book tally was in the neighborhood of sixty titles, but the number means nothing. I keep track because I often get asked about what I’ve read that might resonate with someone else. And many of these questions come from those who don’t read my site. I can quickly pull up the list and have a look. From those books sprang a list of countless others. Reading is one of the joys in my life and will become more and more important in the coming years. When you realize how little you know, and you find cause to remedy, reading elevates to a prime position in the daily hierarchy. Gone is sitting around. Gone is watching television. The pages tick by and the data is filed away for future use.
By the time you read this I’ll be dangerously close to finding my fifty fourth year. In many ways, I feel like I haven’t started yet. Way too safe, way too protected, way to conforming, way too comfortable. I heard Alex Honnold say “Nothing good comes when you are comfortable and cozy.” While I don’t agree with this entirely, I do see his point. There are those who go and those who don’t. There are those who talk and those who do. I strive to push myself from one group to the other. My question is “If not now then when?”
I learned that I detest social media more than ever. Just when I think we can’t get any more addicted, afflicted or dumbed-down, along comes something like TikTok. I see former people of promise descend into the madness under the guise of “Well, everyone else is doing it.” Ignoring the damage, the data breaches, the predatory behavior and the destruction caused inside their own homes and families. I see whiny photographers complain about the demise of Twitter while searching for their next online playground. Then I see those same photographers remain on Twitter while desperately seeking attention and false praise. They ask “Where is everyone going?” Then they post about the demise of the photography industry and can’t seem to realize they are to blame. I learned there are fewer photographers and more content creators.
I learned that I can adapt to and quite enjoy winter. I learned, once again, that less truly is more. I learned that a single-speed bicycle is life-changing. I learned that birding has become a fixation and will become more and more of my life. I learned the beauty of birding is that you can do it anywhere. I learned that birding requires no permission. I learned that taxonomy is an art form. I learned that my desire to visit the polar regions is stronger than it was. I learned I still wish to visit Japan. I learned I still wish to undertake a multi-day canoe trip. I learned I need new life jackets.
I learned that I am one of the most fortunate people on the planet and to even have the time and resources to make this post puts me in the one percent of the population. I learned that this reality comes with responsibility. To deny this reality or responsibility is inexcusable. I learned if you ask yourself if you need something you don’t. I learned that using what you have is the best way. I learned that buying two new cameras does nothing to create more time to use them.
I learned that there are incredible people doing incredible things. I learned to be inspired and motivated by these people. I learned to learn from them. I learned that at some point something has to give, something has to change. I learned that being able to control these moments is where power lives. And I learned that with power comes control. And I learned with control comes freedom. I learned my distaste for money, finance, investing and the typical pitfalls of money are still repulsive to me. I learned that people who watch the market on a daily basis are typically boring people who often live small, soft lives. Not all but many.
I learned that nature is the key to just about everything. I learned that eighty percent of the Afghan population has direct ties to the land for their survival. I learned that there are now national parks in Afghanistan because the Afghani people know how critical nature really is. I learned that the United States doesn’t understand this anymore today than we did last year. I learned that nature has almost no chance to survive here. I learned that auto-dependent sprawl will continue to be the primary “progress” put forth here. I learned my desire to help create bicycle “opportunities” in the United States is strong.
I learned that water wars might arrive sooner rather than later, but I’m not entirely sure what they will look like. I learned that new things are often less effective than old things. I learned that memory is deceptive and prone to be revised. I learned that revisionist history is now the norm. I learned that data scares people. I learned you can never visit the same place twice. I learned that the perfect book is a unicorn.
I learned that being an introvert suits me perfectly. I learned that isolation suits me perfectly. I learned that lockdown suits me perfectly. And I learned I think about what suits me far too much. I learned my grand plans of achievements for the year fell far short of my goal, again. I learned I may never get where I’m going. I learned I can install suspension on my van and can also work on a motorcycle, at least to some degree.
I learned that my wife is still the better half of our equation. I learned, again, how lucky I am to have her. I learned my gap to family had grown too wide and I need to find means to close it. I learned roadside bathrooms and the Trader Joe’s parking lot are the two most dangerous places I visit. I learned that AG23 burns like a thorn in my side. I learned that I will have to address this in the coming year or it will only get worse. I learned that building out my ecosystem is critical.
I learned I know nothing about astronomy or the sky above. I learned my Spanish still sucks. I learned I am in far better shape than many people of a similar age. I learned that the need to stay strong burns in me. I learned I’m not a gallery person. I learned I’d rather visit the natural history museum than the art museum. I learned that air travel has seen the last of the glory years. I learned future air travel will simply need to be endured.
I learned I know next to nothing about the oceans. I learned my desire to work with a conservation group is becoming an issue. I learned that my “audience” meaning you and you and you, are talented and intelligent people. I learned that many of you suffer from the same creative affliction that I do. I learned that this post was done with no research or planning whatsoever. I learned that blogging after twenty one years is still one of my favorite things I do. I learned I still don’t care who sees my work. I learned I have no desire to ever return to photography as my profession.
The door is about to slam on 2022 but the window to 2023 cracks open. The invisible transition aided by the ball drop, consumption and mass gatherings, as always, but open, free, strong and opportunistic is how I see what lies ahead. If in doubt, go. Shadows linger in the brain. Leave them long enough and they fester, some with decay and some with the unbridled beauty of the world.
I’ve been reading you for a while now, but I only just subscribed. My friend who loves you sends me his favorite posts, and I continually thank hm. I think what I like most about you is that you’re real. Everybody has a hidden agenda (usually money), but you just throw yourself out there, not as concerned with “why” as I am. I’m shooting to be more like you in ’23. Thanks for the inspiration.
Hey Debbie, such kind words. Thank you. I’m glad I’m providing something of value. The truth is I don’t know what I’m doing, so having a hidden agenda isn’t on the scope. Yet…
You say illuminated, I’d be happy with enlightened as I thought that happened a few hundred years ago? The Allagash is callin…
I learned that I have much, still, to learn from reading what you say. I learned I’m grateful that you’re out there, often calling out the same crap I hate, and that I’m not completely alone in the desert. I learned that there’s still much to do, including making things with the help of people smarter and more talented than I. And I learned that I’m grateful to have the freedom and the opportunity to do so.
Thank you, and all the best to you in 2023.
I think we all have to realize how fortunate we are. We are the 1%, most likely, and that comes with responsibility. And there will always be more to do than we can accomplish. Do what you can.
Wonderful post. Happy New Year Dan, Chuck, and the Shifter community.
Roger that, same to you.
Have you read Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland? I think you’ll like it.
In she says, “Go simple, go solo, go now.”
It’s how I try to live life.
Looking forward to Shifter in 2023.
You are the second person today to mention those books. Answer, not yet but on the list. She was unreal.
Well said Dan!!
Happy New Year, Dan, and stay the course. For us all, in fact.
Holding steady Rob!
I wanna thank you for your mentoring, it really helped me when i fumbeld around in the dark looking for the light and creativity. It’s easy to get stuck in our world, especially in the situation we are in today.
Wishing you the best and a Happy New Year.
“I Have Learned”
Fredrik Lindeqvist // Sweden
Thanks Fredrik, glad you are here. Still a lot to learn for us both.
A fantastic recap of your year. I become scared to do my own reflection for what it will highlight and showcase how much of a bozo I still am despite my attempts to change. Appreciate all your thoughts.
I just rattled off what came to mind. It was more therapy than post….
You have continued to inspire me, and this post doesn’t disappoint. I especially resonate with the section on social media. I have felt this way for a while and it’s great to hear that I’m not alone. I am hopeful for 2023 for us all. Happy New Year to everyone in this community.
Social is like nails on a chalkboard. I have zero time for “influencers.”