Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Monthly Archives: January 2022

Twenty-two years.  §

This site has been online for twenty-two years. Entire universes have come and gone in that time.

— § —

When I was young I never wanted to be the guy that lived for work, nor did I want to be the guy that lived a dis-integrated life.

So it was that I insisted always on working remotely. On using my own equipment for work. I pursued a career (academics) that would have enabled me to maintain the same identity outside of work that I had inside it. When I had kids, I wanted both parents to participate equally and together in child rearing.

I didn’t want to live a two or six or a dozen separate, compartmentalized lives.

But the forces in today’s world are just too strong. Today there is a work me and a private me. I have work computing equipment and private computing equipment. I did not find a career in academics. I am divorced and so half of the time I am a father and half of the time I am a single guy. I am half of the fertility couple that produced my children and rarely have contact with the other half.

Like everyone, I live a completely fragmented life.

I don’t see how or why we live this way. It’s a recipe for losing track of your life—having it fly by without any way to understand that it’s happening or to capture it in memory and narrative. Instead, it’s a string of unassociated flashbacks and images, not a biography of a single person. Very few people get to be single people any longer.

— § —

We’re in that period between the holidays and the summer during which things seem cold and barren. While driving back from dropping the kids at school today I thought for a moment that I’d write a novel about traveling through barren, snowy areas and that feeling that hangs in the air this time of year in the modern world. Then I realized that Orhan Pamuk already wrote Snow and that I’d just be doing that again only without the pathos and the story.

— § —

I have to go. My other self is knocking at the door since it’s business hours. It’s time for the private, evening self to commit seppuku again and hand pass the torch to the business hours work self.

I remembered what I was feeling the urge to write.  §

I was going to write that I was sad.

It’s not cool in this society to say something like that out loud, much less semi-anonymously into cyberspace.

But 2021 was a year that was full of sadness for me. Of course, for a great many other people as well, but I’m not them so I can only speak to my own 2021. And my own 2021 was a sad year. Not sarcastic ‘sad,’ not Trump sad, but legitimately sad. Like, if I could cry, I would have spent a lot of time crying, but as a guy with hormones I’m incapable so instead I made a bunch of insufferable posts here.

But I’ve been sad. It’s been sad.

And now, taking down the Christmas decorations and heading back into ‘reality,’ a new wellspring of sadness ironically at 2021’s passing.

I am hoping that 2022 can be better, with far less to be sad about, but there are troubling signs on the horizon.

There are indeed times when I wish I didn’t have to be sad alone, but life experience teaches me so far that some of us are always alone, whether other people are around or no. Yes, possibly that’s our own damned fault. Doesn’t mean we know how or have the skills to fix it.

So sadness it is.

That’s the post.

Football metaphors aren’t always bad. In fact, they may be better than most other things.  §

I swear.

All day I thought about making a post, and then it comes to 7:38 in the evening and I realize I’m in danger of not doing it.

That has to stop. That’s the encapsulation of any and all New Year’s resolutions that I have. That sort of thing has to stop. If I think all day about making a post, I damn well need to do it.

— § —

Of course by now, having let things slide for far too long, i can’t remember any of the things I wanted to write. That normally would then become the excuse for inaction. “Owell, I forgot, I guess I’ll do it later.” Wash, rinse, repeat.

No.

— § —

My alma mater went out yesterday and played a hell of a football game. They lost. But they did not lose by failing to live up to their potential; they maximized their potential and they lost anyway. Funny thing, this makes the loss something that I feel proud for them for.

All of this is a bunch of old truism, i.e. there’s no shame in loss if you do your best, but I think people often lose the latter part and shorten it to “there’s no shame in loss,” which is incomplete. Or they take “do your best” to actually and secretly mean “intended to do your best and really ‘put your heart into it.'”

That’s not right either.

Heart isn’t worthless, exactly, but it’s not the key piece of the puzzle. Your best is that which matches your potential. Doing your best isn’t a matter of intent, and it’s not a matter of heart. It’s a matter of hard work and long preparation and discipline and sacrifice. If you have done all of those things, haven’t cut a corner, haven’t phoned it in on this day or that, have legitimately kept your promises to yourself and to others and grown through every last ounce of hard work that you can commit and then you lose—then, and only then is there no shame in it.

Indeed, there’s much pride in it.

— § —

It sounds just a little bit maudlin and high school to be telling football stories and using phrases like “your best” on a blog post when I’m a forty-something, but I’m legitimately inspired by and trying to learn from these guys to start the new year.

Because I grew up in modern America. Every blow is softened. For every erstwhile unsafety there is a safety net. I didn’t join the military and go to boot camp. I didn’t play football for my school. I didn’t ever have to work hard. I had a decent brain through no fault of my own and as a result have been able to skate by and outperform peers since fifth grade without having to do much of anything.

But now, pivoting toward fifty and having used many big and flowery words with the serious and intelligent people and communities of the world, it all seems worthless.

Plain talk. Plain thinking. That’s what I’m after.

And in plain words I have the more-than-nagging-feeling that I could have been, and could still be, so much more than I am.

And there is shame in that kind of loss, and I feel it.

— § —

So my resolution for the new year is to be harder on myself, not in that self-indulgent way, but in that drill sergeant way.

I will fail, possibly for a long time. I have no model for nor practice in this kind of thing.

But I am determined to do my best.

One small step toward that is actually turning up to make the post I thought off and on about all day, even if I forgot what I was going to say, rather than kicking it to an eternal tomorrow.

Let’s fucking get some things together, team.