Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.
In 2021, it was all moments after I finished creating something like after the initial Weddin video. In 2020, it was the moment(s) when I was creating. In 2019, it was the moment that I realized that he was actually…alive and whole. In 2018, it was the moment that we realized that the car would start. In 2017, it was the moment (or moments) that I deeply connected with a group I had just met at a conference where I thought I would have been antisocial (or just horribly socially anxious). In 2016, it was the moment that I felt in the flow in telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.
So I had think back in all my moments. I scroll through all my photos of the year. Because yes, I knew that I did a lot of stuff—those writing workshops, giving a talk in the Netherlands, reading my work, etc. All of it, but as I scrolled, I remembered the many moments when insecurity and loneliness would overwhelm me. Despite the fact that it’s been years since high school, I still encounter moments of whether I am fitting in. I find myself standing on the borders even of spaces where I have been deliberately invited, not excluded, where the conversations are beyond me or that I just don’t get it. Of course, I can easily that in moments where I am lauded for my achievements, it’s the best. But I guess that it’s never good enough. I am not appreciating my achievements then, because of the achievement itself, but it’s almost like I used them to curry favor. It’s stupid to say it, because it’s as if I am seeking the answer to: do they like me?
But I think that it comes with the reentry into the world. The pandemic, especially the early days, allowed me to just appreciate my achievement exactly for what it was. Because there was no reason to seek affirmation, because nobody was around me.
And interestingly, as I really think back about the moment that I felt alive, it really was when I was receiving the unconditional celebration. Like all those moments in Sedona with Chris. That trip was intended to be a reprieve from those hard first few months of the year—to see my sister and her kid…and to rest. In Sedona, Chris and I hiked—something that I had always disliked, especially after doing it in Peru. But in Sedona, because everything was so short, it wasn’t too bad. I remember climbing Cathedral Rock, doing the whole walk around Airport Loop, and the others. I guess Cathedral Rock. Where we were able to climb and climb. And even though I was freaked out at some points (and definitely later too), I did it. I did it as we passed a woman who had decided to not go any further and was frozen on a plateau. I had slowly pushed my way up, maybe with some prodding. And when we reached the peak, I did the whole 360 Instagram view. It was incredible even though it was marked by all the IG filters and those things.
I felt the grandness and the serenity around me. It was a perfect trip even though it was contained to a domestic place.