The Year in Review

A reflection on this year from a stoic perspective

I am taking a rest after Boxing Day’s dinner, and leaning on the sofa. On the background, the TV is on, screening a re-run of a movie I have not seen since my childhood: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The movie brings plenty of memories, and oddly enough, I decide to pick up the computer and reflect how this year has been for me.

I will not fall into rating how good or bad this year has been, or start lecturing other people what to do with their extra time. I don’t brag, and the internet is packed with people with recipes for a happy life, but that’s not available here. Instead, just a reflection.

And so it is, 2020 is almost over. I keep on thinking, but cannot find a way to thread a coherent summary. It started with tears: I lost someone important in my life. My grandfather vanished suddenly on the last days of 2019. He was 90 years old and had taught me a lot, amongst the most important things, to always keep the authority accountable. Something I will always be grateful for.

But I also experienced sweet moments: we have moved to a bigger home, that has proven to dub perfectly as office space, allowing me to bang on the keyboard and doing my work from home in a safe manner. This is something I am extremely grateful for as well. I have helped my better half to re-locate her own business to a more suitable place, and managed to keep conducting normal daily life in the same neighborhood of Helsinki that I have been living and loving, Kallio.


Demonstrators with flags in a freezing day in Hakaniementori (Feb 1971) by Rista Eeva Ser. CC BY 4.0

At the end of 2019, an irk started to grow in me. As basic needs have been covered for several years, I took on reflecting how or what was I doing to make my environment a better place and realized that apart from my contribution to some local NGOs, I was not being of real help. At the same time, I was feeling my work could be better used in a different manner, or in a different place. I soon realized both frustrations were interconnected when I came across an article about a local foundation aiming at saving the world (article pay-walled). Said article led me few months after to land a job as the first engineer working for Compensate, a non-profit foundation fighting climate change in the most direct way possible there is: removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pines, Hendrik Voogd, 1807. Public Domain

I took less pictures than what I hoped at the beginning of the year. Or, better said, less digital pictures, as 10 rolls of film are waiting in a box to be developed 😓. I acknowledged few months ago being stuck with my photography, and I even asked for advice on Instagram, to which I received many answers from kindred photographers stating to, instead I can focus on just seeing. Just being aware of my surroundings and with eyes wide open to just appreciate light, shapes and colors. And that’s what I have been doing.

Being away from the camera has not meant less time wandering. I am very grateful to have the friends I have, always willing to get out for a walk, be that in the woods or roaming through the city. Together we have ruminated the goods and the bads of this year. But not only I have walked the streets and woods of my neighborhood, I just checked with my Suunto and this year I have done nothing less than 220h and 47m of a rather wide variety of sports. Mostly running and cycling but also swimming, kayaking and a little bit of skiing (even though the lack of snow). In total 150 activities, which is close to half of the days of the year doing sports in some way or another. I can just but hope for good health and keep adding up to those numbers.

Party at home, woman dancing. Väinö Kannisto, 50s. CC BY 4.0

A year full of good and bad things. I look forward to see what is around the corner.

EDIT Dec 17, 2023: Updated <figure> elements to include alt attribute.

Typed on Dec 31, 2020