A Look Back at 2021, and a Hope for 2022
Since I’ve spent a full year building systems and tracking data in my Notion workspace, I’m actually able to effectively review what happened in the last twelve months, what I thought and felt, and what it meant to me. I like being able to collect data, develop information, and uncover meaning, because really, what else is Notion for?
In 2021, I renewed my practice of reading from actual books, not just digital versions. Over the last few months, I’ve developed a morning routine of reading a chapter or two with my coffee, and before practicing meditation. It’s a lovely way to slowly wake up and focus on my heart and soul before taking on the day. I tend to read either spirituality or fiction in the morning, simply because I’m not a morning person and anything that requires holding facts in a logical sequence that early in the day is simply beyond me.
I track mostly non-fiction in my Notion media database (primarily books, articles, and podcasts), so while I know I’ve engaged over 200 pieces of media this year, I also think I’ve read around another 100 works of fiction, borrowed through my local library’s digital service. So, I’ve taken in a lot this year!! Here’s some of the highlights, the things that either transformed how I see the world or myself, or that I thought had something really interesting to say.
In curating this list, I notice a key theme is that of personal formation: how does one become the best person possible? How do I both desire and discern what the good life is, and then, how I do I behave in such a way as to live into that good life? How do I help myself behave in such a way consistently? In their own way, each of these authors helped me articulate those questions, and also to discern my answers for living the good life in this time and place, strange and chaotic though it be.
- Becoming Dallas Willard, Gary Moon
- “Is shitty art worth making?”, Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files
- The Congregation in a Secular Age, Andrew Root
- The Enneagram of Discernment, Drew Moser
- This Life & the Pomodoro Technique, Alexa Hazel
- What Can a Body Do?, Sara Hendren
- Resistance is Futile: The Myth of Tech Inevitability, L. M. Sacasas
- Savage Gods, Paul Kingsnorth
- You are What You Love, James K. A. Smith
- Taken for Granted: Merve Emre on Emotional Intelligence as Corporate Control, WorkLife with Adam Grant
- The Rise & Fall of Mars Hill, Mike Cosper & Christianity Today
- Note to Self: Creating Your Guide to a More Spiritual Life, Charles La Fond
- A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene Peterson, Winn Collier
- Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life, Luke Burgis
- Strong & Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing, Andy Crouch
- A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, Parker Palmer
- The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, Beth Allison Barr
- The Soul of Desire: Discovering the Neuroscience of Longing, Beauty, and Community, Curt Thompson, MD
- The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength), C. S. Lewis
- Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode--and into a Life of Connection and Joy, Aundi Kolber
- The Journey Toward Wholeness: Enneagram Wisdom for Stress, Balance, and Transformation, Suzanne Stabile
I started life as a poet, and what with one thing and another, have renewed my befriending that old self in new guise this year. I’ve revisited old friends, and discovered new ones in 2021, and though the list be small, it be mighty in impact.
Daniel Grissom, a world that eats its children
A post shared by Scott Erickson (@scottthepainter)
I’m always on the lookout for new, and good, music, but I tend to rely on others to point me in the right direction. I’m a big blues fan these days, so The Arcs and The Black Keys were favorite buys this year. I also love weird music, so Heilung, an experimental folk band (emphasis on experimental) featured heavily on my Spotify rotations. I mean, if you don’t feel like running naked through the woods and holding a still-beating heart up to the moon after listening to this band, are you even alive?
- “Citizens”, Jon Guerra
- The Dune Sketchbook, Hans Zimmer
- Yours, Dreamily, The Arcs
- Delta Kream, The Black Keys
I tend to get bored easily with tv shows and movies, and going to the theatre felt like a chore even before The Current Unpleasantness. That said, here’s the standouts of the year (that I watched, though most came out in 2021). When a show or movie really lingers in my heart and mind for days afterward, that’s when I know it was really something. And I mean...BABY YODA.
- Dune (I saw it twice, okay?!)
- The Mandalorian
- Midnight Mass
- Great British Bake Off, Season 9
- Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy
What with working from home, and various lock-downs, restrictions, and apocalypses (apocalypsii?), I didn’t venture too far afield and instead, ventured inward. I started quite a few things this year, and I plan to continue cultivating these seeds into 2022.
- Intentional retreat days
- Creative\\Proofing (this newsletter)
- Managing to accomplish some small, but significant, personal projects, even with taking a new, larger role at my day job
I started life as a poet and a writer, so writing has always been A Thing. That said, I’m rediscovering what it means to be a writer now, with the life I’ve had so far, and the life I’m building from here. Since I did start publishing consistently online this year, here’s a few things I really enjoyed working on.
- Navigating Chaos: A Creative\\Proof Theory
- Welcome to Your Heart: We Love You Here
- Work Your Loki: How to Befriend Chaos
- After Liminality, Grief.
2021 was a strange, and a strangely normal, year, proving that you can get used to almost anything. I found it a year of building: of systems, habits, relationships, visions, desires, plans. In short, I found myself building the scaffolding for the life I want, the person I want and long to become. As I take the next steps into 2022, I really want to focus on cultivating: coaxing tendrils of life to climb up the scaffolding I’ve prepared thus far into luscious, vibrant blossoms, leaves, and vines that flourish, not just for me, but for others, including you, dear reader.
So expect more issues of Creative\\Proofing, and hopefully, even more creative\\ways for us to collaborate and grow in the next twelve months.
Let’s be creative, hopeful, and wise — together.