Last year was one of disruption, multiple changed plans, instability, and finally settling in. I have no big plans for 2022, except maybe to try and get to Japan during the summer to tie up some loose ends there. Thus, my goals for 2022 are pretty assured.
2022 will be a year of learning. (well, I suppose every year for me is so…)
Last year I knocked off 40 books. This year I halved my goal with an eye to consuming more books in Japanese as a way to build my reading skills and increase my vocabulary.
One of the biggest things I learned about myself living on Ikijima last year was just how rusty my Japanese got being in Canada for the previous ten years. Upon returning from the island I vowed not to let my relationship to Japan, and my Japanese language ability, decay. It is a big part of my identity, and I feel much regret turning my back on that part of me during the 2010s.
Last year I set out to finally take the JLPT and got a few volumes of the 総まとめ books which I found very useful. Unfortunately I could not bring them with me from Japan, and they are stuck in a box back in Kyoto. I might just repurchase them, or try something different until I can get those books back in the summer.
Just today Unseen Japan posted on language-learning through reading which is very timely. Last year, following advice from a friend, I connected my Kindle to my Amazon.co.jp account and downloaded a few books. Now I know where to get audiobooks so I can listen and learn at the same time.
This is the first time I am learning in the digital era and can take advantage of cool tech that uses techniques like spaced repetition (SRS). I haven’t figured out which Anki app I should be using on the iOS yet, let me know if you have recommendations.
I still have unfinished business with regards to my book. There are a number of travel reports that I have yet to write up. I plan to work on the manuscript on the side, polishing off the chapters I can write now until I can get back to Kyushu and explore the southern part of the island more. Kyushu really is a fascinating place, and I have so much more I want to say on this.
One thread I found during my research last year that I intend to keep on tugging on is transnational Buddhist networks and the pan-Asian resistance to colonialism in the Meiji period. This topic fascinates and excites me. I read a number of books in this vein last year but there are still a few out there left to work through. Then I will have to go to primary Japanese sources (see the above goal).
Last year I finally applied to Birken Monastery’s Upāsikā Program, a one year training course for “dedicated lay Duddhist practitioners.” I have taken the Five Precepts and am really looking forward to some structured suttā studies, after so many years of haphazard self-study. I am sure to write about this again once I am a few months into the program. Stay tuned.
The jobsearch at the end of last year took longer than I thought. Partially this was due to my lack of proper self-branding. Having bounced from startup to startup, wearing a lot of hats along the way, it can be difficult to communicate to someone in a big company exactly “what I do.” Luckily, after talking with some other “generalists” — and reading David Epstein’s Range — I think I have figured out my fit. Now I want to sharpen my existing tools, and learn a few more to strategically increase my range. Luckily, my new role as Operations Lead will let me work on this.
Beyond the day-to-day, I also plan to continuing my public writing. Last year I wanted to pitch more publications. I don’t think I have the time this year to be super-aggressive with this, but I would still like to add a few more outlets to my list of bylines.
Reading, learning, writing. It looks like 2022 will be the same old-same old for me. I suppose that is good news, since there is not much of a stretch for me to create totally new habits.
What do I wish I could do if I had more time/resources? Get my chess ELO up, learn go, pursue film studies and watch a ton of Criterion, travel… I might do some of those things, but I think the biggest is photography and video. I had a blast taking pictures with my Lumix GX7, GoPro Hero 8, and Mavic Mini drone last year. So many amazing photos of beaches, sunsets, and blessed rock formations! I am no longer 5 mins to the beach and am not actively travelling, so I doubt I will be doing as much photography this year (fingers crossed for an extended trip to Kyoto this summer, covid-willing).
Other than that, I am pretty satisfied with my setup for 2022. I am feeling hopeful for this year. I hope you are too!