During the New Year season I like to sit down and meditate on the past year and to compare it to previous years. I feel like doing so places what may otherwise seem like a disparate year into the wider story of my life. Placing 2021 into story-form also gives rise to the question of whether or not I’m on the way to some end goal, since every story has an ending.
This is how some historians often write history books: they compartmentalize periods of time (called periodization) according to perceived similarities between events that occurred within that period (classical era–>dark ages–>medieval age–>renaissance–>enlightenment–>modern era), and they then go on to compare and contrast different periods that they themselves constructed. It’s all somewhat tautological, and there’s a large degree of imagination that goes into the whole process. It becomes more of an issue when such constructions become the basis of attempting to steer the future in some direction. About that “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” proverb? Yeaaa, not very wise. I honestly don’t know who to fear more: those who cannot remember history or those who claim to remember it.
I’ve always been a critic of conceptualizing history in this way, but, when it comes to myself, I find that periodizing my life gives me meaning, purpose, and direction. However problematic it may be, I prefer it over abandoning it all together. I’ve found that I’m generally more happy with imagined structure, because, without it, I tend to go down the dark tunnel of nihilism and I start listening to gothic rock music. If you see me with headphones on at Creekside listening to bands like The Cure or Bauhaus, please smack me.
Twenty-twenty-one (just to make proud my high school English teacher for not starting a sentence with digits) was a calm, steady, and comfortable year for me and Dave’s Backyard Farms. It brought with it gradual growth in product offerings, in number of customers, in revenue, and in newsletter subscribers. Actually probably one of the things that I’m most proud about accomplishing this year is having established this newsletter as something more than just marketing. The sharing of deeper meditations, of my thoughts on agriculture, and of silly anecdotes via these emails has become one of the more meaningfully rewarding things that I do. I deeply appreciate you reading them, and I love hearing your thoughtful responses.
Having a calm 2021 is exactly what I had hoped for. This is because 2020 was its polar opposite: explosive growth combined with explosive stress. If you’ve been here for a while, you know why. If not, it’s a long story. I can tell you about it some time. Just ask.
Over the last two years it’s become apparent that, for me, the speed of business growth is proportional to my level of stress. So with this in mind, I’m trying to figure out in what direction do I steer 2022. I know that I am capable of, or even could benefit from, a little less calm than what I experienced this year. But I certainly don’t want to experience another 2020. I wonder, do I want to open a second location in 2022? Well, if I open a second location, might as well open 500 eventually (better watch out, Bezos). My main motivation for doing so would be to spread the local food movement as far and wide as possible. But, since I’m particularly sensitive to cortisol, would this lead to overwork and debilitating stress? Or maybe this fear is the result of me over-imagining my 2020 stress level, or at least of me giving more attention than is deserved to just a few isolated, unique incidents that occurred that year, similar to how historians often imagine or exaggerate unique historical events. I honestly have no idea. You know what? Screw it. I’m going to put on my headphones instead. I’m goth now.
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