Yearly Themes – What the Pandemic Taught Me

Happy New Year everone! Or, as we say in Bulgarian: for many years [to come]! Expectations are something we’re keeping in check this time around, I’m sure. I’d like to talk to you about something we can do to replace ‘goals’ or ‘resolutions’ for the year, and I’ll touch on some video game and poetry things as I do so. Here is a 6-minute video detailing what I’ll be talking about: themes (recommended but not obligatory viewing).

We usually track progress and personal development with measurable metrics. How many days did you go to the gym? How many pages did you read/write? How many places did you go to? These are all very painfully countable things. And it’s time to stop counting. Not just because it was hard in 2020.

Seriously! The point of a resolution is usually to achieve a tangible improvement in oneself or one’s habits. But if we quantify and systemize it, there is great pressure to adhere to and judge by the numbers. This is where yearly themes come in play. Choose a keyword and, when faced with a choice, go into the path that that keyword is guiding you. For instance, if your theme for this year is ‘Health’, don’t spend time setting up goals on how to eat and how much to train. But, when it’s time for dinner, do think about your theme – what contributes to ‘Health’? You can see other examples in the video linked above.

So what’s my theme for 2021?

There are two things that brought me to my 2021 theme. One of them – Disco Elyseum (2019) – is a masterpiece of a game. I have gushed over it to friends more than anything else you can imagine. Its writing is immaculate, it is a profoundly poetic game in many aspects. But what stuck out to me is that the game lets each part of you – your mental, physical and cognitive abilites – speak to you. This works incredibly well. I’m sure you could imagine how your empathy speaks to you, or your sense of authority, or your willpower. But have you thought of how your muscles do? How the electro-chemistry of your body, your coordination, your savoir-faire could speak to you? What would it say?

There is beauty in all of this. In fact, every single motion is a celebration of being alive – eyes darting, fingers typing, head tilting. These are subtle, and we take them for granted. Now think about movement on a large scale – thing about training, running, dancing! Think about how music makes us move, how the physicality of sound changes our own phyiscality! This year, I befreinded a b-boy and saw him practise. There is so, so much to see in movement. And so little have I managed to understand.


My theme for 2021 is movement. I’m not interested in going places or travelling – I want to MOVE. I want to stretch more, I want to train more, I want to walk more. I want to dance more! I want to see what my body and I can do. I want to write more – and writing, inherently, is a type of movement. I want to talk more, I want to tell more, I want to be told more. Communicating is a type of movement.

But to move, for there has to be a starting point that we make the differnece from. A ‘before’ to the ‘after’ and, optionally, a direction or purpose. But I want to learn to move with no particular goal in mind, and to enjoy the very process of moving, of doing. Moving is what we do to detach from the state we found ourselves in 2020. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do going forward.

This holiday season, unlike many, I got to spend time with my parents. And it’s perhaps the best Christmas we’ve had together – we can’t distract ourselves with anything outside the house. And, for once, I’m not anxious to leave them again. I’m lucky to spend the holidays with them and not alone – but I can enjoy them only because I know what it’s like to not be able to visit them. Perhaps times of hardship teach us, or rather remind, that some things are taken for granted too often.

You could interpret this as ‘movement’ backwards. And I think there’s good reason to value it. But to appreciate it, I had to be elsewhere first.

I hope that whatever’s going on, you can move: on, forward, backward, slowly, quickly, carefully or brashly. What will your theme for 2021 be?

P.S. I didn’t realise, but movement is also a key concept in syntax too! If you’re curious about syntax, may I suggest a previous blogpost?

P.P.S. We do have two planned upcoming posts about writing. Look forward to that!

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