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Breaking Down 2022
2022 was a strange year out of the gate – from Phish postponing their annual Madison Square Garden shows out of Covid concerns to all of us hoping that the mental and physical overhangs of the preceding two years would give way to something resembling the “before times” I think we were all chasing a bit - grabbing the hockey stick a bit too firmly looking for a break that didn’t necessarily arrive in any meaningful way.
Personally, I decided to jump into my 60th orbit around the Sun with a plan to get healthier and more flexible, mentally and physically. Hockey practice, walks (both aimless through New York City and more metered along the Atlantic City Boardwalk) added to rowing, stationary bike rides and a concerted effort to explore every hotel gym over a year of renewed travel. I started an account on Strava, and by the end of the year found myself in the top quartile of all users in terms of active days (rather than total mileage), and suitably empowered, bought a used Hydrow (Craigslist for the win).
The biggest change was to stop thinking about exercise as something to endure and instead as a small series of goals. Whether it was each 1,000 meters rowed or each 5 minute circuit in kettle bell lifts, I began to look forward to new personal bests and later writing some obscure comment in my Strava history. I’ll happily admit to borrowing the idea from 1980 USA Hockey goalie Jim Craig, who spoke of the final period of the Miracle on Ice game as four five minute segments, each with its own tenor and tenseness. I also began exploring walking tours of various work destination cities, providing a bit of local color, culture and frequently some vertical elevation to the walks.
Some of my deepest rooted summer memories involved working on puzzle books sitting in a house near the shore, listening to intense rain and pounding surf while discovering new strategies with numbers, patterns or words. I bought my first crossword puzzle books after a few afternoons on a beach doing a group solve; part of my mental flexibilty was to learn to stop overthinking the clues and enjoy the subtle puns and context. My annual goal setting to spend more time on other mental escapades – religious texts via Sefaria, languages via Duolingo and bass clef music sight reading – suffered from lack of attention but I think a similar “goal vs endurance” will reshape that approach for 2023.
It was, by all meters and staves, a good year for live music – Phish tour, two road trips to see the Trey Anastasio Band, my own 60th birthday jam session with family and friends, and the joyous revival of midtown New York’s jazz clubs. Ron Carter (an American legend at 85) and the Brecker Brothers Reunion Band (note for note as funky as 1978) with my father brought all of these paths to a transitive closure - rediscovering old music with new phrases.
A non-trivial part of 2022 was restarting this newsletter and the habit of writing, journaling out ideas for future items, and making cranky observations. Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting and making this space feel like the informal lunch conversations on which it is modeled.