I thought it would be easy to start a 'yearly tradition' at thirty-three, but I've changed more since then than in previous years. Now at thirty-four I'm questioning whether it makes sense to write this—maybe I'm too offline—yet erring to do it anyway and maybe not publish later. So then, what's special about this year?
Since coming to Berlin in March 2022 to do a creative residency with moos.garden, it seems like I've become another version of myself. My naive plan was to be there for a month and then do something unrelated next: I ended up staying three months, getting another visa, travelling solo in Germany while connecting with people around the country, and witnessing life unfold with less effort than ever. It's been exhilarating so far and I'm still not sure where it's heading.
Through building a stronger relationship with my father, there were many discoveries: feeling better equipped to ask for and accept help; noticing how I can care for others; gratitude for the ability to simply be myself with a parent, as this is not always the case. Our beautiful meetup in Europe taught me that it's possible for people to see things in a new way even as they get older, and that sometimes a little encouragement can be life-changing. More profoundly, I discovered how much positivity I can cultivate in others just by being sincere and empowering them to do the same.
As someone who was basically sedentary for three decades, I never thought movement would become a principal activity in my life. I'm currently training several days a week of Capoeira, which is a mix of music, dance, acrobatics, and martial arts; I started it for fitness and as a portal to Brazilian culture, but it's becoming something that I'll take with me wherever I go, even if I stop training. As a complement, I also started taking weekly classes for breakdancing, which probably has origins in or shares movements with Capoeira; although unthinkable for me a few years ago, I'm enjoying it and even starting to feel comfortable improvising with this language of moves.
In contrast to my usual octopus approach of having many simultaneous projects, I mostly focused on the Strolling podcast and meeting people to converse and see what comes from those experiences. It's been interesting to notice how strangely compelling it is for me and other people to enjoy the pureness of a friendly exchange; I'm unaware of a way to summon this magical quality on command, but I work towards it in each conversation. I'm also not used to hearing so many people comment nicely about my voice, but this had a similar impact to me calling myself a writer last year—not that I identify as a speaker or talker now, but it's something about myself that I acknowledge and step into more deliberately: an important milestone here was my first solo video where I just talk into the camera for a few minutes.
I might say I've struggled with romance for most of my life as I tend to live outside most of the societal norms that would help me meet and sustain deeper relationships with people. So what a pleasure it is to now feel deeply connected, loved, appreciated, seen, understood by someone who is also a creative peer bursting with ideas for fun, business, and life. I never thought it could be so effortless to spend time together with a person who often has a very different approach to things than I do. It's a bit new and slightly intimidating for me to imagine, but I'm looking forward to seeing how this evolves.
This birthday was 'celebrated' with a concert of music about Capoeira from one of my favourite albums ever. Might also be a nice yearly tradition and a reminder to myself that organizing events is a joy and in my blood. Hope you enjoy the music.