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Things I learnt in 2020

Here are some things I learnt in 2020:

I am less emotionally vacant than I thought I was: Dad being ill really shook me, particularly when he went in for his second open heart surgery. Potentially losing Mari opened the flood gates even though I had rationalised it. Bobby getting lost made me sick to my stomach and felt like I had almost lost a child.

I am incredibly fortunate and most of that stems from things out of my control (e.g. where I was born). Seeing the hardship of our cleaner and how Colombia offers her zero support was eye opening. She has had to deal with clients just stopping contact with her during quarantine, an ill husband, a niece with cancer, family without jobs and various other challenges.

What being a better partner is. Loving Mari for who she is rather than how close she is to some utopic ideal of what a partner should be. This stems from overoptimization too. My ideal for a partner was XYZ but that ideal left for no serendipity. Mari is wonderful in many ways I had never thought about and I am better for it. So I learnt that holding on to your utopic ideals is terrible not only because it is unrealistic and shallow but also because it is flawed as it is limited by your experience.

How hard life in Colombia is and how lucky I am that I can choice where I live. Colombians put up with so much friction and crap that limits you but is out of your control. It makes you feel impotent and demotivated. I already feel the shackles loosening a bit as I start my move home. That said, I have loved Colombia and will miss it dearly. Bogotá has been a home to me and I have had a lovely life there. I met Mari and found Mango in Colombia. It will be forever in my heart. I had amazing moments and I didn't even scratch the surface. I feel lucky that I have the choice to move to other places and hope that highlighting the luck I have is taken as the recognition that it is rather than a boast or a slight.

The people I admire and aspire to online (mainly on Twitter) actually probably spend too much time there. Having a big presence online for the most part requires prioritising online over offline. I don't want my life to mostly exist online therefore I shouldn't covet them.

Things go full circle and you constantly forget the things you have learnt. Routines, mindsets and experiences that previously helped and solved problems for you can easily be forgotten as the problems they have solved disappear. Journaling can help remind you of your habits in the good times so you don't forget why something you do is important.

Life is much more fragile than you realise. Dad nearly died multiple times growing up in Belfast. Last year his health was turned upside down overnight. The coronavirus came and demolished the way we live. Trump nearly mutilated American democracy. Churchill lamented in 1905 that him and his fellow soldiers would never see war again then fought in two of the most significant in history. Humanity survives on a precipice yet its constant advancement makes us complacent. Life as we know it is absolutely not a constant. Ever improving quality of life is just the latest iteration of a lost past. Do not take a single second of it for granted.

Health is important and will only get worse. Mum and Dad will only get more ill from here. Mari and I will only get less healthy. The impact comes not only from the illness but from the restrictions it places you under.