Sir Roger Scruton 1944 – 2020
Sir Roger Scruton 1944 – 2020
Sir Roger Scruton 1944 – 2020
This coming spring I will turn 37 years old. Maybe it’s the age or the end of the decade, maybe it’s the splash of gray in my hair that I just noticed or recently becoming a father, but I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in life and where I want to find myself tomorrow or next decade.
I recently had a wonderful realization, a liberating realization. I’m not going to become an astronaut. Nope, it’s never going to happen. Not only that, but I’m not going to become a star athlete, millionaire record-producer, venture-capitalist, scientist inventor of the cure for whatever, or any other dream and expectation that one has growing up. Nope, none of that is going to happen. What I am is a husband, father, brother, writer, dog-owner, and a few other mundane things that I love and enjoy.
One of the benefits of giving up on high expectations is that I can focus and enjoy life and hobbies on a micro-level. I can pick up guitar playing without hoping to become the next Jimmy Page. I can lift weights without the desire to compete and rate myself against professional bodybuilders. When I jog it’s because I enjoy it not because I’m training for the Boston Marathon.
There is a poisonous mindset in our culture that takes every hobby and activity and hyper-professionalizes it. Even video games are professional, you can’t just play a game, you have to be on-line, have to rate on seasonal ranking boards, have to compete and practice for hours, everyone has to stream. Tabletop RPGs are going the same way. You can’t just play with your friends, you have to blog about it, stream your games, monetize monetize monetize.
I fell into this mindset when I was young and gave up two activities I really enjoyed for stupid reasons. In high school and a bit after I used to play guitar. I really enjoyed being in a band, playing gigs, hanging out with friends, but most of all I enjoyed playing the guitar, writing music, learning riffs, and experimenting with equipment. For whatever reason, life, bands breaking up due to school and relationships, the usual, I gave up on playing guitar. I told myself that if I wasn’t going to make money on it I should stop wasting my time. Around that time I did the same thing with art. I used to paint, all the time, every day. Large oil and acrylic paintings. I loved art, but I knew that I would never become an artist, whatever that means, so I quit. I gave up art and music because of the sick mindset in which you don’t engage in activities for pleasure but only for professional profit.
Around the time my wife became pregnant I made a resolution to pick up cooking. Since then I’ve become a somewhat competent amateur cook. I can knock out a few dishes confidently and I’ve taken up summertime grilling where I’ve kicked up some delicious burgers, hot-dogs, chicken, and ribs. Most of all I’ve realized that one can enjoy a hobby without obsessing about being the best. I can cook and grill for myself and my own pleasure.
The realization that I’m not going to be the next top chef, that I don’t want to be discovered and open my own restaurant, that I don’t want to own a food truck and a Netflix show. I just want to cook great food for my family and friends. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. It’s a great feeling and makes the enjoyment of the activity so much more pleasant, a truly relaxing hobby.
This year I’m going to continue cooking. I’m going to up my game and have a lot of fun with it. I’m also going to apply the same mindset to other hobbies. Who knows, maybe I’ll pick up a paintbrush.
I woke up this morning. Correction, I was woken up this morning by my child. Ate waffles, drank coffee, played, then went to the park while my wife hit up Costco for necessary stuff. Costco is one of those places that gives me hives so I like staying home with the kid and letting my wife handle that madness. Now it’s afternoon, wife and kid are napping, Costco imitation LaCroix is in the fridge, coffee is made, so I figured I would knock out a bit of blogging and maybe some reading.
Even with the hectic holiday schedule sucking my life away I’ve made it a point to write a bit every day. Mostly in my pen and paper journal, but even put down some words towards my 2020 project. My daily journaling and idea writing has become important to me and I enjoy going back through old notebooks and re-discovering thoughts and ideas.
One of the obvious topics around this time of year is resolutions. What will I do this year. I’m big on planning and aiming for goals. I like to set one big goal and break it down into smaller ones in order to track progress. David Steward has a great series of videos on goal setting and accomplishment, his playlist called Keys to Prolific Creation is worth any creative persons time.
So, my main goal for 2020 is to complete my pivot away from short story writing into full-length novels and publish my first independent novel. A challenge due to the fact that I will be somewhere in the South Pacific working, for the majority of the year.
In other news, the recent topic of discussion has been the re-focus on blogs. Jon mentions it here and I’ve seen others bring this up. I’m an advocate of this idea and will do my part towards switching the focus away from Twitter, a platform that is horrible for discourse and community. I’m going to aim for a minimum of two posts a week and aim to refocus my commenting here instead of elsewhere.
I think multi-blog discussions like The Pre-Tolkien Challenge I ran in 2018 is a great way to build up blogging communities with discussion that goes much deeper than anything you can generate on Twitter. Personally I discovered a lot of great fiction due to that challenge. Let’s do some more in 2020.
Happy New Year from the West Coast. It’s been a crazy one. Moved to California from Japan, only to go back to Okinawa for a bit, so I could go adventure through Malaysia before coming back to California.
Most importantly, and the best thing about 2019, was all the wonderful moments I shared with my wife and daughter. I look forward to a lot more in 2020.
Looking back at what I read over the past few years I’ve come to the conclusion that my favorite novels qualify as historical fiction and adjacent genres. Shogun, Tai-Pan, Scaramouche, Captain Alatriste, and Master & Commander are the novels I gravitate towards.
I’ve also been reading a lot of blogs focusing on Historical Fiction, so for 2020 I’m going to join the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for fun.