Holy shit! This post is finally done! I wrote most of it in the wee hours of the California night between work shifts.
In a consistent effort to live my best fucking life, and to inspire you to live yours, here’s my 2020 in review. It was one hell of a year, and there’s a lot here, so feel free to skip around to the parts that interest you. As usual, if I’ve listed anything that was previously documented, or anything that I personally endorse because I like it (not because I’m paid to), I’ve included the link. If you’re easily distracted as I am, I recommend skimming through the actual post first, and then going back and clicking the links that interest you. I’ve also removed a few categories and added a few new ones. OK. Let’s get after it.
Last year I saw a lot of people last year go balls deep into the into black hole of the “2020 Sucks” mentality. It was like a fucking zombie contagion of bad mojo, and I watched, as before my eyes, negativity and antagonism spread more contagiously than COVID itself. And I tried my damndest to lead by example as living proof that you CAN live the hell out of your life, even in the midst of some really shitty circumstances, and we CAN unite as humans.
I read ten books. I published 5 blog posts. I sold, trashed, or gave away anything that didn’t serve an active purpose in my life (which actually turned out to be damn near everything I owned). I achieved my childhood dream of moving to the beach, into a small condo a block from the water. I paddle boarded at night on an angry ocean. I watched a west coast sunset (thank you, Logan, for that bucket list item). I got better at surfing. I started full body submersions in the Atlantic Ocean in winter. I experimented with the tummo breathing technique. I walked in a ceremonial prayer circle. I captained the development of a full time vascular team at my current hospital. I traveled domestically and internationally. I flew to California to assist with the COVID crisis and nurse shortage there. I reflected on a lot. And I probably grew more personally and spiritually than I have in any year since 2012 when I participated in the Landmark Forum.
Enjoy, my friends. I hope it inspires you.
I was banned for life on Plenty Of Fish for some mysterious violation, three days after creating an account, without posting anything inappropriate or sending a single message to anyone, and for no reason specified by POF, though I requested one. Come to think of it, it sounds way cooler if I just say “I was banned for life on POF.”
Consumed A Lot Of
This fast became my signature beach drink. There’s just something about the combination of sea breeze and coconut rum that seems perfect for the beach bum mentality.
After a few nuclear meltdown type events, and a HUGE slap on the ass from the Universe, I finally let go and gave in to something that had been pulling at my soul for some time: I broke free from the emotional hurricane I’d inhabited for several years. I sold, gave away, or trashed damn near everything that I owned (which, let me tell you, was a whole lot of shit), and I moved from a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house to a 1 bedroom, 1 bath beach shack, a block from the water.
I had plans to settle down with someone in that Georgia house. Life had different plans, which I staunchly resisted for years. But when I finally said “yes” to life, life said “yes” to me. It was one of the most painful and terrifying and freeing things I’ve ever done, and that ghost still comes knocking. But I’m wiser, I’m tougher, and I know liberation doesn’t come without pain. And I found my escape in a simple beach shack with minimal possessions.
Books I Read
Opening Up, The Dirt, Don’t Bite The Hook, Talking To Strangers, Indistractable, The Man On the Mountaintop, Brave New World, Slash, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, The Eye Of The I.
Thank you, Jordan.
Favorite Media Post
Ricky Gervais’s satirical opening of the 2020 Golden Globes was, in my opinion, absolute comic genius, and also saturated with much truth.
Favorite Purchase Under $50
miniwell Gravity Water Filter.
These things are amazing. I typically use them once per extended trip. They’re light, portable, and will filter water anywhere. For example, we used a single filtration kit throughout our almost two-week trip to Mexico, including Mexico City, with nary a shit splatter. You can take water straight from the tap and filter it into drinking water. I’ve also used them on river and pond water from numerous hikes. I like the fact that you don’t have to clean a bunch of parts. There’s no maintenance. When you’re done with a trip, you’re done with the filter. Recycle it and move on.
Favorite Purchase Under $500
Osprey Packs Aether Ag 70.
There’s not enough room in this article to list all the cool-ass features of this backpack. But trust me, there are tons, and it’s a meticulously thought out design. I can go on damn near any seven- to ten-day excursion with this pack. It’s comfortable, it’s loaded with compartments to organize, and it has one of my very favorite features: the lid doubles as a day pack, and not just your run of the mill daypack either. This daypack is also comfortable, functional, and has a separate compartment for a water bladder. This means you can take that miniwell Gravity Filter (listed above) and your favorite 2-Liter water reservoir, and be set for any day-long excursion, so long as there is a sink, spigot, river, pond or other water source along your route, toilets excluded. I mean, hell, you could probably drink from a toilet with this setup, but even I don’t have the balls to try that shit.
Something I Tried For The First Time
Mezcal and bread of the dead (pan de muerto) in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Trust me when I tell you if you think tequila knocks you down a few notches, mezcal will put you right on your proverbial ass. And I did inadvertently try the deceased pickled gusano (baby worm) at the bottom, whose honorable death within the bottle is apparently a sign of the mezcal’s potency. Maybe that’s why it tasted like rubber, liquid smoke and rubbing alcohol, with a sprinkle of gasoline. We did find several varieties (apparently there are a bazillion types of mezcal), and found some that were rather smooth and very tasty.
Something New I Learned
How to put on a front zip wetsuit without looking like some wet ostrich donning a leotard.
Favorite Domestic Destination
I stayed at the Yoga Retreat Room Near Cathedral Rock, which was a mesmerizing place in and of itself, and what gracious and benevolent hosts I had. If you’re ever there, I highly recommend this AirBnB for a full Zen experience. Thank you, Jakob and Fabiola.
Favorite International Destination
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
San Miguel was such a magical place to start our Mexico expedition, and we had a kind and warm host at Suite San Miguel Allende in the Casa Frida AirBnB. The humble door of Casa Frida opens up into a large and breezy entry space, and then to a lavish Spanish colonial courtyard, with beautiful kitchen, dining area, and guest quarters in the rear. There is also a spiral staircase which leads to the rooftop overlooking the whole city. And the historic architecture and local art around the city are just breathtaking. Thank you, Memo.
Most Thrilling Experience
Driving at night in San Miguel de Allende.
Keep in mind this was the very first time I’ve driven a vehicle outside of the United States. The mood was set on a desolate highway in rural Mexico, about an hour outside of town, when, in front of a random group of ten to twenty Mexican horsemen, we caught air in our rental car on a stray INVISIBLE speed bump going about 45 mph. I use the word “speed bump” loosely, because it was more like plowing over a dead walrus in a rocket propelled Barbie Dream Car. I feared the wheels might fall off, but we made it safely to the city.
When we arrived there, night had fallen, the GPS went down, and we found ourselves immersed within the tiny cobblestone streets of the city, with cars rushing by like hummingbirds on LSD. And the thing is, the founders of San Miguel were a tenacious bunch. They didn’t give one single fuck about erecting an entire city right onto the side of a mountain. So not only were the streets so narrow that I could high five, at will, any driver in any oncoming car, not only was damn near every street cobblestone, but some of them felt like we were driving up the actual stairway to Heaven, such as the street we FINALLY found that led us to our AirBnB. I had the pedal to the floor in that 4 cylinder Chevy Cavalier, rattling up that textured hill like some damned banshee clown car with square wheels, and I did let out a primal yell at the top, from sheer release of adrenaline.
Most Meditative Experience
During my last night in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, my newfound travel friends drove me down the parkway to a little dive bar on the outskirts of town. On the way there, I fell into total Zen Mode in the back seat as I watched the sun disappear behind the majestic plateaus, Vallis Alps remix of Matt Maeson’s “Hallucinogenics” blaring over the car stereo, with the warm desert breeze swirling through the open windows. After drinks and dinner, we pulled off of the desolate parkway on the return drive, killed the headlights, lied right down in the pitch dark on the still warm asphalt, and gazed into the biggest, most star speckled sky I have ever seen. Thank you, Tina and Serena.
Biggest Injury or Illness
I’m grateful to report that, despite multiple COVID exposures and a few opportune times for injury, I only sustained a few minor scrapes and bruises last year, and had little more than a few mild allergy episodes last year. This marks the first year of my entire life that I went without so much as a cold. If it isn’t simply dumb luck, my top theories are extra amounts of sun exposure from multiple sessions on the beach, the cold water therapy and submersion, or the Wim Hof and tummo breathing methods. The jury’s still out, and I’ll test it out again this year.
Perfect chill beach atmosphere. The inside is a pleasant mixture of dive bar and polished. But my favorite part is outside. The tables go all the way out to a small lawn, with the beach just steps beyond. You can dine under the ambient outdoor lighting, and then chill afterwards on one of the lawn chairs and listen to the ocean waves. We actually enjoyed an impressive redneck fireworks show on the beach there on July 4, since regular festivities were shut down.
Favorite Lodging (excluding home)
Room 606, Residence Inn Myrtle Beach Oceanfront.
I was a traveling nurse when the Covid epidemic started. Myrtle Beach government mandated that all hotels shut down, except for essential healthcare workers, who were given a small extension while we figured out where the hell we were going to go. Then, the beautiful Residence Inn Myrtle Beach Oceanfront hotel graciously opened their doors to essential healthcare workers, and I had the immensely grand fortune of residing there, with a handful of others, for two amazing months, with the entire hotel shared amongst maybe ten people.
Room 606 was a balcony oceanfront, fully furnished suite. Every single morning for two months, I had breakfast on the balcony and watched the sun rise over the sea horizon. And every single night I went to sleep with the sliding glass door open, drifting off to the whisper of ocean waves. What’s more, the hotel occupants had access to the coveted beach, which due to Covid, was now closed to anyone who didn’t reside oceanfront. We practically had the entire beach to ourselves. I met a beautiful, charming southern belle of a nurse there. By days on, we worked our asses off at our respective hospitals. By days off, we would take in our heart’s fill of sand between our toes and ocean waves between our ears. And at night we would sip Patron or red wine, and I’d play guitar for hours out on the balcony, under the ocean moon. Some of my very best days and nights of my 2020 were spent in that room. Thank you, Saf.
Hardest I Laughed
One Christmas night, whilst most families were celebrating with their loved ones, three weary nurse travelers gathered inside a small, sixth floor hotel room after a long shift, and celebrated our own Christmas with tales of personal tribulations and triumphs, passing around a guitar between swigs of liquor. One such traveler began his tale of a broken marriage, wherein he shared that he had pushed through the long, arduous task of turning the sale of hotdogs into a very lucrative business inside of a Bass Pro Shops, only to discover that, during his hard labor, his wife had been having an affair. Before he could address the triumph portion of his story, the country western troubadour among us, and owner of said guitar, promptly broke into an impromptu, though interestingly refined, chorus, in his southern drawl, merrily singing,
“While I was selling hotdogs at the Bass Pro Shops,
My whore of a wife was out sucking cock.”
One might have heard the drunken hyena cacophony of laughter which followed, all the way down in the quiet hotel lobby. Thank you, Chris and Dave.
Thank you, Maddi-K.
Thought it was my biggest accomplishment, the day I actually left town for good was such a mixture of deep sadness and total liberation, because I knew I wasn’t coming back, at least to live. I got pretty emotional as I was leaving, but I knew my time in Georgia was at an end. Laying to rest what didn’t work out as expected for new plans can be painful. But you have to be brave if you want a big life.
Secondly, I was still residing in a work hotel with around 30 days remaining when I moved. In other words, I went for over a month with no permanent residence. Talk about a massive leap of faith. I knew it was what I was supposed to do. Ultimately my heart was at peace with it. But I’d be lying if I told you there wasn’t an occasional nagging voice in my head going, “Dude! Where the fuck are you going to live?” It worked out, as it always does (thank you, Matt, for that referral). On that note, I want to express my utmost love and gratitude to my realtor and friend, who never pressured me into a purchase, who got to know me and what I wanted, and who always, always, ALWAYS sought to do what was very best for me in my situation. I cannot recommend her enough as an agent in the Myrtle Beach market. Click her name to go to her link. Thank you, Gina Terracciano.
Most Meaningful Conversation
A very dear friend from Georgia visited me in Myrtle Beach one weekend. As we had a few drinks and strolled down the Murrell’s Inlet Marsh Walk, she posed a single question to me: When was the last time you were single? She then really pissed me right the fuck off (as hard truth always does) by calling me a “serial monogamist.” And thus began a hard, painful, but strangely liberating journey into the world of deliberate singleness, deep self observation, and a hard exploration of my fear of loneliness. Thank you, Shannon.
Something I Pondered A Lot
Why I’ve always felt the insatiable need to be in a romantic relationship.
Most Valuable Lesson
Last year was a good lesson in learning to say no, or not now, to too many commitments. See my year’s goals in my 2019 review. I mean, holy fuck. I realized, for example, that a drunken paraplegic goose would sooner cross the Autobahn alive than I could write a book in a year, especially having never written one before.
How my 2019 goals measured up.
- Read a book a month. No pass. Missed by two.
- Erase all debt with the exception of my one remaining student loan. No pass.
- Travel internationally at least once. Pass.
- Get rid of anything that I own that is not actively serving me. Pass.
- Become conversational in Spanish. No pass. Not even close.
- Become a proficient surfer. Semi-pass. Honestly, between COVID shutdowns and a hard wipeout, I studied tons, but practiced little. I wouldn’t say I’m proficient (yet).
- Try at least one new body or mind experiment. Pass.
- Write a book. No pass.
What I commit to accomplishing in 2021.
- Read a book a month.
- Post at least one blog post a month on www.tripp.life.
- Travel domestically at least once.
- Travel internationally at least once.
- Post all three of my original music albums and finish and post my latest album release. I’ve had this in my space for some time, and I have to address it before I can focus on a long term writing project.
- Take another swing at erasing all debt with the exception of my one remaining student loan.
- Find a surfing instructor.
- Start using the Babbel language app at least three times per week (for Spanish).
Cheers, my friends. May 2021 be your best year ever.
If not now, when?Hillel The Elder