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Architect | Photographer | Writer | Polyglot | Windmill Jouster | Nomade Civilisée.

It is impossible to encapsulate a year’s worth of discovery into a single, neat list. Regardless, here are 100 insights that emerged from an intense period of exploration, discourse and distillation. It is my coda to an incredibly illuminating year.

The author © Anthony Fieldman
  1. In a year, the world can change, within and without. Just look at the one we went through. As Gandhi said, “Live as though you will die tomorrow; learn as though you will live forever.”
  2. We don’t run out of things to say, provided we listen closely enough to our inner dialogue, then spend enough time with these thoughts to put them to words.
  3. We don’t run out of things to learn, either, provided we internalize our experiences, to understand what they are here to teach us.
  4. Writing is a mental meditation. It helps us process things we may intuit…

Are we living in a simulation? Are we avatars for other game players? Is consciousness something we simply create, so that our qualia — that is, individual instances of subjective, conscious experience — can prove that we are, in fact, merely solipsists?

A still showing the ‘world controllers’ generating the societal simulation, in 2020’s Brave New World.

Brave New World. The Matrix. The Truman Show. Inception. Source Code. And the latest dystopia I’ve seen: Archive. …

Marcel Proust’s genius is as widely shared as it is misquoted. One of my favorite observations — of his, or anyone’s — relates to “beholding the universe through the eyes of another” in an act that combines empathy, presence, connection and creativity, all at once. Here’s the story, and why it matters.

New eyes in Daassanach Territory, Omo Valley, Ethiopia. © Anthony Fieldman 2018

The full quote, from Remembrance of Things Past, goes:

“The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess new eyes; to behold the universe through the eyes of another — of a hundred others — to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is.”

With that last word — “is” — he intuited over 100 years ago that we each inhabit a different universe, built around no more than our unique perceptions of shared experiences. He understood — long before most…

Slaughtered Native Americans. Stolen and enslaved Africans. DDT-soaked Mexicans. Interred Japanese Americans. Rejected, Nazi-fleeing European Jews. Euthanized “imbeciles” and “defectives”. Compulsorily sterilized inmates, women, poor, disabled, and minorities. All of it encoded into Law, among countless other initiatives, and enacted over centuries. The United States is a nation founded on — and defined by — racism, and its citizens are still deeply entrenched in its practice.

“Manifesting God’s Destiny”: The Gnadenhutten Massacre, 1782

Manifest Destiny was the early settlers’ idea that God himself favored the culturally and racially superior “White” Americans, which demanded that they subdue, convert and/or dispatch “savages” of all other colors and creeds, then take their rightful place as overlords of the world, and the people in it.

Historian David Dorado Romo, a descendent of Mexican origins, told The Atlantic in the latest issue that “we have deep amnesia in this country,” citing his shock at the discovery that his Mexican migrant forebears were forced to wear Zyklon B-soaked clothing and be sprayed in the face with now-banned DDT, while…

Drastically dissimilar reactions to COVID-19 have played out in the cities where I’ve split my past year. One reflects the little-known Precautionary Principle; the other Epistemic Optimism. The results have been disastrous, or life-saving, depending on where you live.

New York Rising. © Anthony Fieldman 2017

Wikipedia defines the Precautionary Principle as “a broad epistemological, philosophical and legal approach to [ideas] with potential for causing harm when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. It emphasizes caution, pausing and review before leaping into new [behaviors] that may prove disastrous. Critics argue that it is vague, self-cancelling, unscientific and an obstacle to progress.”

Its opposing counterpart, according to an article published this week in The Atlantic, “is something like Epistemic Optimism: We don’t know enough, and we should always try to learn more.”

After a year spent traveling regularly between several cities in two nations, I have concluded that regulatory OVERreactions are likely to be far more costly in the long run than the deaths borne by those who avoided shutting their economies down, wholesale. Here’s why.

JFK Airport on March 7, 2020. Image: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

I have spent the entire pandemic traveling more than most, taking planes, trains and automobiles nearly every other week without fail since it began, ostensibly so that I could continue to be both “dad” and “husband” undiminished within a family split by national borders. During this interim, I have observed life on the ground in Florida, California, New York, Connecticut, Quebec and Ontario — each one multiple times, and some of them bi-weekly.

Throughout, because of the risks I knew I was taking, I voraciously read everything I could about infection and mortality rates, demographics, human physiognomy, medicine, pathology, air…

One year and 700,000 words later, I have landed on three foundational, interrelated forces that drive all of human activity. As I close the chapter on this project, I wanted to share them with you.

The author, with Leo Villareal’s work © Suzanne Seymour, 2017

A year ago, I embarked on a mission to write 365 thought pieces in a process of self-discovery. I had a vague plan: unearth, explore, test and debate anything and everything I could find, related to the human psyche, with the hopes of ultimately distilling insights from our dizzying complexity.

The idea came to me after experiencing the alchemy of Burning Man for the first time. In Black Rock City, I encountered a 75,000-strong community of unconnected individuals, but for their unusual degree of curiosity, bravery, generosity, electricity and creativity. I’d never seen anything like it. …

How we relate to one another stems from underlying motives of varying authenticity and enlightenment. Whether we transact finitely, or relate infinitely, depends on what part of ourselves we tap into, and externalize.

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

In life, there are neither truths nor falsehoods; no absolutes that explain, contravene or declaratively prove — with detached corroborative infallibility — one’s beliefs in what “is”.

There is only relativity, as Einstein theorized cosmically, but which applies equally, to the human condition.

Our time on Earth exists — in my view — for one reason above all others. It is to discover ourselves — our authentic nature — so that we may create a framework for living that flows from that self, and allows it to flourish, “fit for purpose.”

This nature — one’s truths — are as different…

As we wade into year two of this marathon, there’s one group on which we all rely, yet who in return receive little to none of the care that they so expertly give. Here are some thoughts around what we can do for the caregivers.

Deb, on our first-ever trip as a couple… into the jaws of the California fires © Anthony Fieldman 2017

Before the pandemic began, I already had deep admiration and respect for my wife, by every possible metric. Not only has she been an exceptional mother, always showing up for the children she raised on her own for a decade before I arrived — after she lost her husband when they were toddlers. Throughout, she has also remained as competent and dedicated an executive as I’ve ever met, shouldering increasing amounts of responsibility in the healthcare industry, as more and more of her employers’ sprawling portfolios came under her capable leadership.

She is a master juggler.

Her hospital, home to…

The bad news is life is on hold. The good news is that not everyone is sitting still, while we are hiding. In fact, the opposite is true. Innovation in pretty much every sphere of life is in sixth gear. Here is a glimpse at what is incubating, and why you may want to dust off your ideas now.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I get it. You have COVID ennui. I do, too, but as long as we have our health and our jobs, both 2020 and 2021 deserve nothing but to be met with gratitude.

Not everyone is as lucky.

The truth is, until last year sent us hiding, we were all running at full tilt with our default lives, scarcely stopping to smell the flowers, or survey the garden. And no matter how good our lives may be, personally, we’d be hard-pressed not to see that a lot of our systems are showing some pretty enormous stress fractures. …

Anthony Fieldman

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