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Twenty Eighteen - a year in review

A year is not an arbitrary construct; in the past it was used to chronicle the seasons and aid the farmers in their harvest. The seasons is a real and important thing. As someone who have never farmed in his life and lived in a place where there are really no seasons though, a year definitely feels arbitrary. There's no crops for me to harvest, no crops for me to plant. A split-second separates 2018 from 2019 and nothing exactly changed, but it does feel different; There's an energy in the air, a sense of "new beginnings", a new year to get it right, or fuck it up. Or somewhere in between.

I realised a few years ago that new year reflections are a good chance for me to be introspective. To give pause and take a step back from the drip-drip-drip of my daily routine so that I can really take stock of all that has happened. Has it been a good year to me? Has it been a "gap-year"?

2018 was good to me. I learnt what my limits are, and doubled down on what I really enjoy doing and what I do not. I figured out a few things, and worked on a few things.

  • I started reducing my waste. To use less plastics, to pay more attention to what I buy and if I really need the item. To be a conscious consumer, rather than a copious consumer. I'm still not at the level I want to, but I'm slowly getting there. In 2019, I want to go further and this ties in to my next point.
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Despite how inappropriate this photo is for this message, this has to be said- this installation pretty much echoed how I've been feeling for awhile. We humans, for better or worse, are stuck here on Earth for awhile. Since the dawn of time we never had to deal with our actions affecting this planet on a scale huge enough for us to worry about her inability to cope. Well the time has come now. Just in Singapore alone, we generated 809,800 tonnes (809.8 million KG) worth of plastic trash in 2017. That's completely ridiculous; ~370 tonnes (370000KG) of plastic waste PER DAY PER CAPITA (assuming a population of 6 mil). Of that 809,800 tonnes, only a meagre 51,800 tonnes are recycled. That's 6%. The rest is "disposed" of. Where does it go? Landfills where it eventually poisons our soil and waters? Burnt and released into the same air we breathe? Thrown into the oceans to be consumed by the same fishes we put inside us? How many more tonnes can our oceans and seas and soil take? We seriously need to work on this collectively as a whole. This is one of the biggest disasters in the making, and we need to do better. We HAVE to do better. Bring your own utensils instead of using plastic forks and spoons. Get your own non-disposable straws. Bring your own boxes to pack your food. For those of you with kids or want to have kids, remember that this planet is the only one your kids have, too. You have the responsibility to make sure they don't have to live in a toxic world. For the rest of us, remember that this world is all that humanity has, and we all have a shared responsibility towards Mother Earth. "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it." - Robert Swan, Author

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  • I started looking closer at the things I buy, to make sure they're more durable, more sturdy. I started taking care of my clothes more, to treat them with the respect they deserve, so that they can last longer. I started looking at the materials of the clothes I buy, to make sure they suit my lifestyle. Polygiene was honestly a revelation: a silver-salt treatment for polyester that kills the bacteria that gives polyester its stench after being drenched in sweat. It's supposed to last the lifespan of the fabric as it's not a coating, but actually embedded within the fibres of the fabric.
    Not sure if it would actually last the lifespan, but the odor-control really works; I've worn the same shirt to run a 10K in 30C weather, then cycled with it, before wearing it to yoga the next day. No stink whatsoever. A shirt that doesn't stink allows me to bring less clothes when I travel. It allows me to wear it more between washes, increasing the lifespan of the clothing. Beyond Polygiene, I've also invested in a few Merino Wool tops, although that's a bit more tricky because of the hot and humid weather in Singapore. Still trying to find one that works here.
  • I realise there is a limit to how much a single person can do. It's funny to write this, but I realise that there is a limit to how much late-nights and rushed deadlines a person can endure. That no matter how much coffee you drink, how superhuman you aspire to be, you're still only human. I found my limit, the line drawn not in sand but in concrete, and although it's difficult for me to admit that this is as much as I can muster, I must cry mea culpa.
  • I doubled down on what I love to do. I've always been cycling in the past, but in 2018 I cycled more than 50% of my total mileage since I started recording my rides in 2012. 2,282.9/4,298.6km done in a year, a total of 111h 43m. I discovered a simple joy in just heading out there and making small circles with my leg, feeling the wind in my face and sun on my skin. Whether is it in the trails, or on the roads, I feel like myself the most when I'm cycling. Beyond cycling, I'm also about to head on my first solo overseas trip, coincidentally also my first bike-packing trip, to a place that I fell in love with slightly more than a year and half ago. I enjoy camping and hiking, but to be able to combine that love for camping and nature with my intense love for cycling is something else entirely. If everything goes well, I might double my mileage in 2019 again. We shall see.
Photo by Liu Ying
Rapha Festive 500 smashed.
My route for Tour (Southern) Aotearoa, roughly 1700km
  • I also doubled down on the people I love. It's cheesy, no doubt, but I realise that at the end of the day, I enjoy the company of the people I love, no matter how irritated or frustrated or annoyed I get. My treasured friends (you know who you are), my family, my love - we have but a blink on this Earth, and time is a cruel mistress. This is something I want to continue in 2019. To spend more time doing what I love to do, and more time with the people I love. There is one group-photo missing here because I can't find any photos of us, so I'm going to go with Gerald's masterpiece.
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Pre Shave and Post Shave #hairforhope

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Gerald's masterpiece
  • Speaking of the people I love, at the tail end of 2018 I proposed to the love of my life, and she didn't say yes. But she did nod repeatedly among tears, and I slipped the ring on her finger. It was the most nervous I've been in a long time. But asked I did, and now we're engaged. It's been exactly 6 years and 8 months since we dated, and I thought it was finally time to "if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it". I love you, my dearest.

2018 has been a great year to me, despite some less than stellar moments. I kind of make the same few resolutions for the year; to live life bigger than the year prior, to make the best-er of everything I've got, to love myself more. It's cool, Alfred, no pressure.

Photo by Liu Ying