Update: On the 2nd of January, Marina’s best friend, Eli who was fighting cancer, passed away. We went to the funeral on the 3rd. She will be greatly missed by us, and by many, many, friends and loved ones.
I figured I’d write a post about this last year, maybe to crystalize thoughts I’ve been having, and to help figure some things out for the times ahead.
It’s a bit more personal than my previous writing, but I guess no less useful to share. I’ve added a table of contents to try and keep it organized:
- Events of 2023
- Final thoughts, lost purpose
Events of 2023
2023 has been an eventful year for me. I effected a bunch of positive changes, but also, bad and sad things happened. I’ll go over them in a roughly chronological order.
Started seeing an orthodontist
When I was young (between around age 14 and 17 or so) I had braces. It fixed a few stubborn teeth at the time, nothing dramatic, but over the years since, they slowly reverted to their previous somewhat crooked stance.
I went to the orthodontist and started a program with Invisalign braces that I still have today. I think I will be “done” just before summer ‘24.
The results are pretty dramatic and I’m very happy so far. Just one tooth still has to come down a little and then everything is straight again.
I’m also happy that my adventures with braces this year inspired a colleague (or maybe two) at work to do the same! Yay for great dental health.
The year began with a big change on the financial front: I paid off my mortgage and my house is now mortgage-free.
I’ve been working towards this conciously for the last nine years. The idea was to minimize monthly expenses and simultaneously corner an important aspect of future security (to own a house). The effect on monthly expenses is as you’d expect: I can (much) more easily save money now, vacations are much less of a financial problem.
Before I got here (i.e., to own a house and be mortgage-free), I thought that it would impact me much more positively and I was fantasizing about how much this would help me to feel less worried about the future. I must admit though, that this effect is much less so. I’m certain that on a non-psychological level, I am much safer financially than I was before, but I don’t really feel it as much as I hoped I would..
I guess I was hoping for a relief of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super happy I achieved this, but it didn’t make me feel more secure (yet?). It might even have made me feel a bit lost, a sense of lost purpose? (more on that later).
This year we’ve made the concious choice to have vacation more often. We’ve had quite a period where we had only the minimum of vacations, focusing on work, and the regular chores and joys of raising our daughter, Eline.
Early in the year we went on wintersports, to a small place close to Innsbruck, close to the Italian border. We ski’ed! I hadn’t done so since I was about 6 so it was a lot of snow-balling downhill, but I eventually got the nack of it.
In the spring we went to both the north of Italy, at lake Como and to the eastern side of Sicily. I really loved this vacation. Lake Como was beautiful and where we were staying, it was not really busy yet. Make no mistake, the area is super touristic, but end-of-april, you’re fine.
Sicily was really super great. For me end-of-april is the best time to visit, because it’s not crazy-hot yet but nice (think 22 to 25 degrees celsius). For most tourists and other Italians, this is still cold, so the beaches are empty which I particulary appreciated. I really felt we experienced a personal Sicily.
For the summer we went to Bulgaria, where Marina, my partner comes from. We do this most years, visiting Marina’s parents. It’s great for Eline, but it was a bit of a uneventful vacation for us (which is not bad from time to time).
This year I started blogging. I didn’t write as much as I would’ve liked, but you’re reading it, I have it hosted on GitHub pages, and am using Jekyll.
I appreciate how blogging helps you reflect on things, or share things with the world. I shared my previous articles on Hacker News and really enjoyed the various opinions, good and bad, on stuff I wrote.
In September of this year I started exercising with my great friend Peter. We go to the gym two times a week to execute a regimen of horror for about 2.5 hours.
It’s now about three months on and I do feel much better, more awake. Physically it is also making more and more of a difference. The plan is to just keep at it and so far so good. It has definitely helped with feeling more positive, although I keep struggling with a sense of lost purpose (more on that later).
This year also had its share of death.
Around this summer, Mac, the partner of my mother got news that he had metastasized cancer all over the place. It was very aggressive and unexpected. Mac was 73 years old when he died last November. He opted for euthanasia.
In the last week of his life, I was there most every day. We talked about life and death. I also was there when he chose to die. I admired his bravery and resolution - he drank the cup (made a joke about Socrates) and peacefully went to the eternal hunting grounds in less than 90 seconds. He’ll be missed dearly by us. Eline was very fond of him and it was her first death that was closer to home (her great-grandfather in bulgaria died in 2022).
As I write this, Marina’s best friend is fighting a losing battle against cancer too. It is heavily advanced. She’s been fighting this demon for five years. The last 18 months have been “given” by a relatively new drug called Trodelvy - she would have been gone 18 months ago if it weren’t for this drug.
It’s a matter of hours, days at best for her now.. Just some bad luck with a specific gene that doesn’t matter from an evolutionary standpoint.. Live is really horrible and unfair sometimes.
End of project
This year a big project I’ve been working on went live. It’s the backend for a large-scale notification system that me and my team have been working on for the last three years.
I’m currently working to transition the software development and operations to a new team that will be maintaining it, which will be concluded by april of next year.
It’s a strange mix of feelings. The team I’ve been a part of the last three years is definitely one of the most balanced and positive ones I’ve had the privilege to be a part of, and I’m going to miss that. At the same time I’m happy the software is working, live, and to have a sense of conclusion there.
Final thoughts, lost purpose
This article intended to give an overview of just a life (mine) in 2023, I’m not yet sure how others would experience it (negatively or positively or both) but it did feel good to write down.
Wit regards to a lost sense of purpose: I feel a bit as if I’m “flying” over all these events, as an observer. Important things happened. Bad ones, happy ones, necessary ones.. There’s a feeling of unavoidability.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the “why” of things, also about motivation, about what should be next. And I find myself unable to answer with determination - I lost a sense of purpose, a goal and I’m not sure how to (re)find it.
I wouldn’t write this down if it was just a momentary thing - it has been in the undercurrents of my thoughts for the better part of this last year..
I think “ungrounded” captures it best. I go through the motions, am happy even, but at the same time I feel detached. It’s hard to put into writing.
I suspect I will be tackling with this next year too, although I hope to find some constructive way of getting to a place where I am either at peace with where I am now or re-find my purpose.
My next blog post will be about my ideas and resolutions for 2024, which I hope to write next week somewhere.