Without looking at my previous birthday reflections, I ask myself this year "why do this? and should I do this?", mostly for my own clarity. Today, I justify it as "helping understand what makes each year special"; "sketching out the shape of my experiences"; "documenting important changes or directions"; "having perspective to see a bigger picture"; and "reminding me of things I would like to remember". I also question to be more mindful when I copy patterns from other people, but my reasons today seem worthwhile and relevant. So I continue…
Duos and trios
Most of the last year was spent in a way I'm not so experienced with: 'life together'.
This goes beyond sharing a home with roommates, where, in my experience, days are mostly spent individualized from one another. I've done plenty of that. This is integrating plans, meals, work, conversations, life—everything, every day, for months at a time. In the various permutations of life with my partner, father, or both, I have learned so much about negotiating boundaries, expressing my needs, taking care (of myself and others), and travelling with people (rather than solo). It's year zero of a long journey towards being together fluidly; Holger said to me that "travelling solo is one thing, travelling with a partner is another thing, and travelling with kids is yet another thing;" well, now I've tried two of those things and can see why they're different…
My biggest challenge was making space for myself while the surrounding environment changed constantly and forced adaptation, as I default to being present for others and losing myself in the process. Although from the outside it may have seemed that I continue to get things done and publish stuff now and then, it was rough for me to not feel like I've made deep progress on projects for over half a year. I've come to terms with making my choices, 'going with it', and being satisfied with where I went—no regrets, it's a part of my process, and I feel richer for it. Perhaps I should also not consider life separate from my projects, since they likely make each other possible. My wise elder friend Yves taught me to be more intentional about prioritizing myself while together, that it doesn't happen automatically and takes deliberate effort (which can be as simple as asking each other "what do you want to do today"); I'm getting better at that going forward.
I really stepped into singing while playing guitar, releasing seeds to share songs I enjoy, and writing Teddy Bear to recollect moments with my partner; one might notice a ritual of recording when leaving places I've inhabited for a while. This is not something I would have expected even a few years ago, as I was always more interested in the materials of music than text or lyrics, but songs with words are becoming a way to synthesize my experiences of travelling, languages, and the people I meet.
The biggest surprise was how Orazio's beautiful studio totally resuscitated my piano playing after years of inactivity. I really thought I would never return, but was pleasantly surprised that reflexes developed through guitar were helping me control my nerves while playing piano, enabling me to enjoy it in a way I had perhaps never done; I recorded a short excerpt of one of my favourite pieces (a Prokofiev sonata) to document this, and spent the summer in Toronto doing more. I believe we don't really forget things, but didn't expect that it could apply to my capacities with this instrument.
I'm also learning to step into connection with friends and family, understanding it as one of my powers and something I'm uniquely positioned to cultivate (because of my mother's gift and the million memories I've made meeting people throughout my life). It's nice to be an example of visiting somewhere for no reason other than to meet people I know and want to connect with. When it happens, everyone seems to be grateful without necessarily being able to articulate why—I guess it simply feels good, and I'm glad my presence can evoke that in other people.
After years of abstaining from Instagram, Nibras sold me on the ephemeral stories feature, and I now find myself using it there or in other messaging apps; helpful for non-intrusively keeping up with what my friends are doing and activating the serendipity network, especially as I know people across so many time zones where correspondence can be less than fluid.
I have a hunch that doing all of this will create some important future life possibilities (perhaps even in the next year) that I can't yet articulate or predict, but it's tangible at the moment somehow.
My posture is often less worried or fearful, more present. Bold, unapologetic, feeling like I can handle things unfazed, not waiting for validation. Utterly satisfied to sit with myself and breathe, keeping my head empty. Sleeping has historically been a challenge, but I'm closer to doing it when I want, sometimes almost hallucinating on demand.
The experiences leading to selling morality were some of the most turbulent in my life, but gave me a gaze that can cut through steel.
I'm grateful for the supreme reinforcements from my conversations with Kaixi and Nibras, who impressed upon me (whether consciously or not) that my spirit should burn brighter wherever I am. Haider probably thought it was cute to write "his eminence Rosano" on this airport welcome sign (blurrily captured on iPhone), but it's a special moment that energizes me.
Feels like I didn't do much with code, but did get comfortable with low-code automation and some skills that could save me or other people from tedious computer work; I imagine drawing a circle around what someone needs technologically and being able to create helpful solutions across the dimensions of servers, browser interfaces, shells, and APIs; nice to have, I guess…
Sharesnip was the only app thing I released, and might be the first of practical use to several artist friends (they appreciate a QR code generator without distractions).
Spending four months travelling around Southeast Asia with Heddi was wild. We both especially loved our countless food adventures in Chiang Mai and even tried learning some Thai. I was super inspired by how she improvises nourishing and creative food, quickly makes a home for herself in new places, and gets done her client work, all while travelling, something I've never felt able to accomplish but working towards now while 'strolling across America'.
I learned that I can sleep a night comfortably on a carpeted floor, and even on a yoga mat, which significantly expands the 'surface area' of places I can visit.
Looking forward to time in Brazil soon, and maybe India later, with no idea what to expect.
In fifteen years, I'll be fifty. A stranger told me life that goes by quickly, so make sure you have something to support yourself with later—I keep failing to take this advice, but hope to continue doing my life anyway.
From here I wonder for how long I will be surprised at what is possible for myself?