*Deep breath in*
A new year! Twenty twenty-two. The second year of the “Roaring Twenties” of the second millennia.
First of all, I would like to tell you: Congratulations!
You’ve made it so far, and this—in and of itself—is an accomplishment.
What we have been through in the past two years has been unfathomable to all of us.
It felt like the whole thing was a cascading series of nightmares, and we’re not even in the clear quite yet. Every time there’s a sliver of hope in the air that we can begin to regain a certain type of normalcy to our lives before the pandemic, something else happens and we find ourselves back to feeling uncertainty and, quite a lot of anxiety.
But, if you’re reading this, then you’ve taken it all in stride and you’re ready to roll with whatever uncertainty the fates are willing to throw in your face.
More power to you.
New beginnings matter, reaching milestones matters, and taking stock of the old while preparing to face the new also matters.
It’s a good thing to get started in a new year with a few thoughts of introspection of what’s happened in the past and to try to draw a plan for what’s to come in a meaningful way.
I still cannot get past the fact that my dad passed away in 2018, but like they say, time does heal. I remember my father every single day, especially since now I do have to walk a few thousand miles in his shoes and have a driver’s seat view of what parenthood really entails. I still wish that I had had the chance to sit down with him and just let him know that now I get it and now I understand where he was coming from with all the decisions, opinions, and all the times he told me not to do something, or when he put roadblocks in my path. It all makes sense now dad. Thank you.
In the past year, I’ve had to deal with a few events. First of which was saying safe travels to one of my closest friend Medhat who quit the job and moved back to his hometown to pursue a life that he is passionate about. I cheered him on because I knew that he was at a major fork in his path and that he chose to wield his sword of passion and go fight his own hydras, and that there is plenty of honor and courage in facing uncertainty head-on.
But as my best buddy for the previous 4 years was moving away, I was blessed with the knowledge that I am going to be a father again. So, you know what they say about doors closing and others opening and all that jazz, but that still doesn’t immunize anyone from the capriciousness of fortune. Smack in the middle of a pandemic year, within a brutal job market, my previous company decided to shut down operations and let everyone go. I was faced then with my very own fork in the road; should I move back home and try to figure things out with whatever cash I have left, which wasn’t going to help me stay financially afloat in any meaningful manner, or stick to my guns and try to find a new job with absolutely no guarantees that it will work out. I went with option 2.
Unbeknown to me, the biggest blow of the year was not losing my job but losing a dear friend to COVID-19. You keep pushing the news out of your attention and you feel the distance and detachment, and maybe also some apathy, towards the pandemic news with people being hospitalized and dying until it hits close to home.
And boy if it wasn’t a little too close. First was the passing away of the wife of a dear friend from work. A decent lady with two beautiful little girls whom I met quite a few times when she first moved to the city with her husband and they used to carpool with me because they didn’t have a car yet. Her death was a blow to me personally because she was the very first person within my very own circle of contacts to be a victim of the pandemic. And the hits kept on coming as my pregnant wife also caught COVID during her pregnancy and it was quite an unrelenting nightmare for a few weeks mainly because of the unsettling news of my friend’s wife until thankfully the dark cloud of misery passed us by, but that wasn’t for long.
The biggest blow was the passing away of my dear friend Hazem. A person who had a heart made of solid 24K gold and who was the epitome of decency. A good guy through and through who we also lost to COVID.
So, this is why I still find it very unsettling when I hear conspiracy theorists peddling bullshit about the pandemic being a hoax and those lunatics who refuse to wear masks and take offense when other people are wearing masks to protect themselves.
It’s basic common sense really. Even if the whole thing is a complete propaganda and media fabrication, wearing a face mask is the very least thing you could do to try to protect yourself and others from infections, just on the remote notion that you’re wrong. If you’re right and the whole COVID-19 turned out to be a deep state Illuminati Qanon fabrication to inject you with a tracking device, well, then you will have had to put up with wearing an annoying mask for a number of months without any real harm. But if you’re wrong and there is a virus and you caught it, and god forbid you were especially vulnerable to its most devastating symptoms, may god help you.
I don’t mind people who refuse to take the COVID vaccines. People have the right to be very skeptical about pharmaceutical companies creating a vaccine relatively way too fast than what we’re used to. Although I think that we need to keep in mind that this is an emergency that could pretty much destroy the world’s economy as we know it, and so bumping the research for a vaccine and a cure to the top of the list of priorities is a no-brainer. Especially since their customers are going to be entire countries and the populations of the entire world and so the profit margin is sickeningly huge. When in doubt, simply try to align incentives and you’ll see that it was a win-win-win situation for everyone to create an effective vaccine.
Anyways, let me get off my soapbox here for now, for I do not bother with these futile debates anyways. I have my hands full with a new baby girl, a new job, and a new beginning.
Unfortunately throughout the whole work-from-home situation, I pretty much gained back all the weight I spent years getting rid of, a major setback to me, but one that I am fixing this year again because I never give up on myself and now I am delving deep into nutrition literature and applying as I go. I am planning a new book review about the Amazing book “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teichols.
But that’s not the only thing that I am excited about this coming year. I am also very excited about the blog, for it has been a wonderful journey for me so far and I’ve managed to collect a few personal milestones along the way.
I started this blog as a wild idea at the time that I should perhaps start a writing career. I’ve always been the bookish type, and I’ve always been fighting the urge to write and develop my own voice through my writings. I kept a few journals over the years, wrote a few stories and articles that no one ever saw, and even started a novel at one point. I was, however, always kind of disheartened by the amount of work that is required to reach a decent level. That’s aside from the fact I was always scared shitless to stand up and create a piece of artwork to show the world.
And for the entirety of that very first year of 2018, I haven’t posted a single word. But in 2019, I started, and I was very self-conscious about putting myself out there and sharing my work with a select few friends and family members. And for the very first time in my life, I started getting that magic word “VIEWS.”
It was abysmal of course at the beginning. The posts were too long, my writing was too crude, and everything was just a whole lot of unrefined, but I soldiered on. I ended the year 2019 with a decent small following and a couple hundred views. The year 2020 brought on a lot more enthusiasm because I kept writing and posting, I kept sharing, I got bolder with sharing my work with friends and then strangers. My blogs started to gather a small crowd of loyal fans. But the year 2021 was my biggest year ever on the blog because I basically tripled my views and traffic from the previous year. And that is the main reason I am starting this new year 2022 with a decision that I will be writing and sharing a whole lot more on the blog.
The blog also opened up a number of beautiful opportunities for me that I’m still using as building blocks. I was able to be in touch with many of my favorite authors and virtual mentors through Twitter by sharing my opinions about their books. And that led to moments of immense joy when they followed me back. In addition to that, I was really fortunate to become friends with many cool people along the way, both online and in real life.
I was able to leverage the blog along with taking the initiative to connect with leading authors, business, media, and athletic figures when I wrote my in-depth review of The Possibilities Project.
The blog also allowed a magnificent venue to expand my interests and my passions into interviewing people and writing a long-form profile magazine article that has been another major milestone for me.
And that led to another set of opportunities that landed me my first ever podcast interview.
And that led me to get professional writing offers that got featured on other people’s websites!!!
And I’m just getting started.
That final book, which I finished this very day I’m writing this blog post, was just the thing I needed to push me over the edge and to drive me to go deep with this creative experiment that has been getting more and more satisfying the more I keep at it.
I am far from being the best I could ever be, and my small successes shrivel in comparison with other accomplished bloggers and authors on the internet, but the real thing here is that I am not really competing with anyone except that handsome guy I see in the mirror.
I know full well that I have plenty of value and creativity to share with the world and I know that I am making exponential improvement the more I keep doing that thing that keeps me excited.
I am going into 2022 with guns blazing with a pledge to write twice a week for an entire year and to keep exploring all those side projects that blossom along the way.
I wish you all a grand year of hope, love, resourcefulness, creativity, and equanimity.
And to end, in the words of the great Seth Godin:
Go make a ruckus.
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