Friday, January 24, 2020

2019 - A marathon is more of a mental challenge

At the beginning of last year, I wrote "I have another year to live in my 20s and do stupid stuff". I also bought a stock that depleted half of its value over the course of a year. So we know what kind of predictive power I possess.

I turned 30

To be exact, I have been 30 for 9 days, perhaps even more by the time this post is published. The first day of 30 felt pretty much the same to the last day of 29, yet dramatically different from the first day of 29. What I mean by that is rather than being another year of being 20-something playing in a loop, my 29 was a sequence of pivotal events which gradually morphed the 30-year-old me.

There was anxiety, there was an unexplainable fear of running out of time, which naturally also brought the grief of lost time into the room. In hindsight, I think this can be explained that unconsciously, I wanted to give the new decade a fresh start, which involved enormous mental load of tying up too many loose ends. Much like the rush we have right before the beginning of a long vacation. Just that this time, it lasted for a year and instead of a healthy dose of adrenaline, I had a melt down, like a dear caught in the headlights. I meant that literally, I crashed my motorbike 3 times.I hadn't gotten into any traffic accident since 2011.


Drowning in stress, I have spent an unnecessary amount on fancy food and stuff I don't even need. My left brain knew that I was getting deeper into the sink hole of consumerism. Yet my right brain hoped that the expense would somehow loosen the grip that crippled my heart and lungs. Which it did, for the whole 5 minutes before reality creeped in. Every addicts would know this. I am not particularly known for having an extravagant taste, but damn, if some of these sushi bills got to my mom, she would make sashimi out of myself.


Unexpected friendship

The silver lining of 2019, surprisingly, is companionship from where I didn't expect. Or to be more exact, the renaissance of friendship. 

I was told life-long friendships don't usually form after the age of 25. Learning that, on the edge of being 25, I made a bunch of friends, a good amount of backup like every decent database administrator would. One of them recently decided that waiting for mid-life crisis to happen was for the weak, proceeded to quit her corporate life and open a pen and stationary shop. What started as a customary visit took an interesting life on its own. I found there old friends I thought I had lost, and new friends I didn't know I would make. The slice-of-life conversations there added colors to my monotonous days and yanked me out of an endless loop of depressing thoughts. The shop at some point became my green light at the end of the boat dock. I am now frequenting the place on a bi-weekly basis and made friends with many of the staff - all while enduring occasional innocent remark that I am a whole decade older than them. Of course this cannot replace the beautiful bond that I once had with a gang (and later on shattered, it's a story for another time), but it is the closest thing to a social hub I have had for a very long time. At the same time, being around meticulously crafted fountain pens doesn't help improving my relationship with consumerism one bit. I am a sucker for utilities.


That wasn't the only one though.


A random dinner plan reconnected me to a high school classmate right when both of us were going through a rough patch in our lives. Neither of us was any relationship expert, though she might insist otherwise, yet the exchange of our stories, opening up the feelings, and courtside seats to see the events unfold was a thought provoking experience. It took many trips across the city and one too many minutes standing in front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Saigon, and a whole mixture of giving - seeking advices, self pity - sympathy for this thought partnership to form. Without which, I might have boarded a stupid plane, among countless of other dumb things.


I ran a full marathon

2019 might not be the best year of my life, but turning 30 was still an important milestone. To mark it, I decided to run my first marathon. The run was on 5th January and my birthday was a few days later. That sounded too good a birthday gift to myself to miss. The training started back in March. I got a plan, and I fought really hard to find all the excuses not to follow that. Because come on, who in his right mind wakes up at 5 in the morning! I covered the event in better details here so I won't repeat myself. Bottom line is that in a year where everthing just tried to go FUBAR on me, the rigidity of the training and the certainty that the run would happen gave some structure to my life. I also think that life would be so much easier if I can just run away from my problems like that. Or perhaps I could, I just didn't run fast enough.



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