2016

Welp.

2016 was a doozy.

There were lot of very good things. I started the best job of my life; I started living with my partner, and have never been happier; I’m in the best shape of my life. I listened to a lot of great music, and ate multiple salads. (This sounds boastful, because it is, but I’m trying to be more honest about victories and defeats.)

There’s also, you know, the macro part of 2016. Where, to be brief (because I’m not capable or insightful enough to put an interesting spin on things), very bad things happened.

2016 has made me feel good and bad. The good parts felt standard; the bad parts felt wholly new.

It is hard to reconcile a personal, immediate happiness and contentment with a shattered faith in institutions and basic understandings about the world.

So, largely, I haven’t tried to!

After a few weeks of general existential malaise I’ve worked harder than usual. Part of this is coping mechanism – work to distract from actual things – but largely this is because I think this felt like the most natural way to produce something of value, to try and offset the bad things, to compartmentalize. 1

Anyway, every December I sit down in my grandparents’ den and think about the year that’s passed and think about the year ahead. So that’s what I’m doing, because solipsism can be productive.

And this year, I don’t really have any takeaways or through lines? I know what was good. I know what was bad. Further analysis seems pointless.

What I want to do more of next year is the same thing I tell myself every year: read more, write more, and work more meaningfully.

Goals are supposed to be concrete and measurable, so you can actually compare your progress against your objectives and all of that. So here are the specific things:

I know these goals are cliche. I don’t think I’ll make them (though I hope to). It just feels necessary – to have some sort of North Star, to try and be better.

I hope you are well. I hope you have a good year.


  1. It goes without saying that there is tremendous privilege in the ability to compartmentalize at all. I’m an agnostic white dude in tech: none of my immediate comforts or livelihoods are in danger. [return]
  2. I know a week is a cop-out, since most people do that every day. But I’m more mindful of what I write at this point, and also there’s no way I carry through with 500 words a day. [return]
  3. I’ve been writing more about my side business, Village Blacksmith. You can see the monthly review I wrote in November, and I’m in the process of writing December’s. [return]
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Justin Duke is a writer and developer in Seattle.
He likes good, practical things.
(And writing in the third person, I guess.)


@justinmduke
me@jmduke.com