All of us are travelers.

Even for the many of us who spend most of their time at home (pandemic or not), we are traveling.

We are traveling the longest, most picturesque travel we can take: the journey of life itself.

Along this journey, we tread to valleys and peaks, and most of these look a lot like the next valleys and peaks that we will be walking through. The only way we can get through these future valleys and peaks is to remember how we got to similar situations in the past.

What are you doing to help yourself remember?

Also, as we stay longer in this journey of life, we realize that travelers join us, younger and less experienced travelers who badly need someone to guide them along their own path. You know you have the knowledge that they can use to survive the journey. But will you remember your hard-earned wisdom when it’s time for you to impart them to those who need them the most?

These questions suggest that we all need markers, cairns that mark specific spots we reached along our journey. When we build these cairns, they serve not just as a reminder for ourselves but as a lesson for those who are yet to go through the things we already went through.

Knowing this, I have endeavored to write annual reviews every end-of-the-year. Since I started in 2013, I have written seven reviews that serve as cairns for myself and for anyone who might use them. When I relaunched my blog in 2017, I chose not to include my old annual reviews from 2013-2016. However, recently, as I’m starting to forget how much I have gone through in the past years and as I meet more people who could use some help in the same subjects and challenges that I went through, I decided to republish them here.

I’m sharing them in this newsletter with anyone who might be interested to read them.

Here are the annual reviews and some synopsis on what they contain.

2019 annual review

  • Reviews the different achievements and major shifts I went through in 2019 including practicing intermittent fasting, transitioning to editing as my major livelihood, returning to drawing, reading Thoreau, and finding a new relationship after going through a breakup. It also tells about my struggles with tinnitus.

My 2018 Annual Review

  • Talks about the grieving process I went through after ending a six-year-long relationship. Also shares my first attempts in establishing daily creative routines to explore new passions like poetry, photography, translation, and philosophy.

My 2017 Annual Review

  • Tells about how I found different communities that support my different passions (a writing community, a meditation community, and a permaculture community). It also talks about my relaunch of this website, my attempts (and, again, failures) to live a sustainable life, and my first serious encounter with the mind-blowing world of philosophy.

My 2016 Annual Review

  • Shares about a year full of books—books that helped me understand my place in the bigger scheme of things, specifically in the material world, and how this relates to my attempt to create a fulfilling creative life.

My 2015 Annual Review

  • Narrates my adventures (and failures) in my first attempt to live in Metro Manila for an extended period of time, which led me to go back home to the province to recuperate and give more time to my creative pursuits. Tells about a year filled with travels and “spiritual” discoveries.

My 2014 Annual Review

  • Reviews the ups and downs (mostly downs) of my first year after college. It also contains goals that I set myself for 2015.

My 2013–2014 Annual Review

  • Tells about the different challenges I faced the first year after college. It also narrates how I tackled the question, “What will I do with my life?” which led me to start a blog and work online.

Please forgive my subpar writing in these reviews, especially in the first ones. I edited them very minimally before publishing because I want to preserve my former way of thinking and writing. That is their purpose anyway: to be a time capsule of past mental states.

Whether you read the reviews or not, I hope you appreciate the importance of keeping track of your own life journey, whether through annual reviews, journaling, oral history recordings, or photographs.

Just build some form of marker that will help you remember the journey. You will need it when things get tough.