2022/2023: Reflection, Rediscovery, Relationships

Here I was a few days ago, ready to open up BBEdit and do some final clean up on this so it was ready to post this morning, and what should roll across my timeline but Becky Hansmeyer’s wonderful post about Rediscovery, which in a single word perfectly sums up many of my feelings. (I bought Snapthread Premium as a small token of appreciation. I don’t knit* but if you do, please check out YarnBuddy. Thanks!)

* Not strictly true, in that I have knit in the past, but not since the early 80’s after a very progressive 5th grade teacher (still one of my favourites) insisted that everyone in the class, including us boys, learn to both knit and crochet. Sadly, 4 decades of other miscellany filling my brain have pushed out whatever meagre skills I had acquired at the time.

One year ago today, on a beautiful sunny January day, my Dad passed away. The details are unimportant, other than it was unexpected and very sudden. Some of that day I may share eventually, but here, now, a year later it’s all still just a little too raw, except for this: We’re extraordinarily grateful that his last morning was so beautiful – in the Vancouver area in January, it could have much more easily been a dreary, rainy day.

For some time before I had been feeling unsettled, and like I needed to make some changes, but this really kickstarted the need to reflect on things – and so that’s what I did all through 2022, as we worked through the initial shock, through dealing with paperwork and loose ends, and then the simple business of going on living our lives, changed as they were. For each thing, was this something I enjoyed? Did I want to spend more or less time doing it? What things have I been missing doing, or that I want to but never got around to?

And so, much like Becky, my theme for 2023 (and beyond) will be about rediscovering myself and my interests, both past and present, but also my relationships.

On a professional level, I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of flexibility. I’m going to be very selective about new things I take on, particularly those with large time commitments. I’m at a point in my life where I want to steadily shift my work/life balance away from work. Ideas that I’m just not passionate enough about, at least for now, are being shelved. Even things like new (to me, at least) languages and frameworks: while there are still some that I want to learn, there’s very little that I feel like I have to learn at this point.

Tangible things

One common thread that has emerged out of that all that reflection is my desire for tangibility, for tactility. I’ll never entirely lose my love of computers, and of writing code, but after spending so long immersed in code and digital things, I’ve been rediscovering a love of tangible things and processes, and working with my hands.

A couple of years ago I started doing the odd carpentry/woodworking project, and as I’ve gone on and done more, I’m finding I’m really enjoying each project, no matter how mundane. There’s something immensely satisfying in creating something physical that you (and others) can hold and touch and say to yourself “I made this”.

I’ve started building a few electronic circuits for different things again, something I had long ago left behind for code, because it didn’t need all kinds of gear with you, or bins of parts. All of that is of course now a good part of why I find it appealing.

My seven-year-old self, who had resistor colour codes memorized, would be disappointed with how often I have to look at references, but remember those decades of stuff filling the brain? It’s not always displaced so easily with new/relearned bits and bobs…

In 2020 I bought myself a mirrorless camera to get back into (non-phone) photography again, and last summer I bought a compact prime lens to expand my options. Honestly, most of the time I could probably get a better photo (at least at a glance or for casual sharing) with my iPhone, but it’s the process as much as anything that I’m finding enjoyable: the physical controls, and the limitations and effects of your choices of lens and settings. It feels like a much more deliberate, more intentional way to take photos. And every once in a while the results are amazing.

After years of procrastination I finally bought an eReader (A Kobo Clara 2E monty.xyz/2023/01/0…), and I’m already reading more than I have in a long while. I’ll probably read more books this year than I have in the past ten.

I still love – and am still buying – physical books, but I need to be selective: I still keep all of my books, and there’s only so much space…

I plan on building more Lego. Two of the particular special highlights of the year were spending Father’s Day building with my son and his partner (who would also, a few months later, become his fiancee), and again with my own partner on a hotel balcony during our fall road trip.

Which brings me to:


With myself: making a point of taking the time to take care of myself both physically and mentally, to reexamine what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, what I want to be doing.

With my loved ones: It’s always easy to say, but it’s important to actually make the effort to spend time with those you care about. To be more present. To really pay attention, engage with them, with their lives, with how they’re feeling.

I’m even finding some new depths to my understanding of my Dad, and my relationship with him. There were a great many things we did not see eye to eye on, but there is much I owe to him, including bringing me into work at Control Data oh so many years ago to show me the mainframes and thus introducing me to computers, inspiring a lifelong hobby and career. And even mundane things: we used to watch him circling the property seemingly endlessly on the ride-on mower and wonder why he spent so long at it. It was of course partly because he was a perfectionist, but now that I’ve taken over that responsibility, I get it. There’s something wonderful about a task that’s not overly complicated and has visible, tangible results, but where you can just kind of tune out and forget the rest of the world for a while (the ear protection helps). Plus there’s a certain go-kart-esque fun to it if you enjoy that sort of thing, which I do.

With my surroundings: It’s long been a goal, but I’m going to make even more of a point to be more aware, more present, for what I’m doing. On a walk, taking in the rustle of the breeze through the trees, or the crunch of gravel under your feet. Watching how the dog scampers through long grass, or snuffles at a molehill. Soaking in the pattern of dappled sunlight on a forest floor, the tiny flower on a mossy log, the lap of waves or crash of surf, the texture of a sweater, the flow of people at a park.

There is an entire world of many small delights and wonders to be found if we just pay attention.


So, after all this, do I have a detailed roadmap for the future, or even for this year? Not at all, but the outlines are there.

Rediscovering lost joys, and discovering new ones. Rediscovering and building on existing relationships, and making new connections.

Most of all, to make an effort to find – and to let myself see – moments of joy and delight in life, whether large or small. I hope you can find your own moments as well.

Thank you Dad, for that one final reminder that we shouldn’t need, but often do: time is precious, and you should always be ready to take stock of how you’re spending it and change accordingly.