I’m not a big fan of birthdays. I don’t particularly enjoy giving presents and neither do I enjoy receiving them. But I do use the occasion every year for a little introspection just before going to sleep, and that I enjoy. Introversion for the win.

Last year was especially interesting. A month earlier, I had considered getting a gym subscription to drop the three excess kilos I had to enter my usual BJJ category for an upcomming tournament — and decided that jiu-jitsu wasn’t important enough for me to warrant dropping money I didn’t really have just for a comp. Creativity, design, code, those were my true passions.

But I worked my ass off all year long yet my creations remained anonymous. The web community appeared not to be the meritocracy it pretended to be and I gradually fell out of love with it.

Then I won that competition. And on the 26th night, I was on the mats with my whole crew, just like any other day. And I remember clearly thinking

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now

2014 in the rear view

So this past year, I embraced BJJ as a large chunk of my identity. I’ve been training four times a week almost without exception and I rarely drop a session to do something else instead. This has lead to considerable progress on the mats but I’ve tracked it on this blog quite extensively already.

I just noticed the other day that a lot of my t-shirts are now related to BJJ or fighting in general. I own as many gis as I own music instruments as I own computers (that would be five of each). When I’ll get to decorate my bedroom, it’s probably going to be some BJJ inspired theme.

I wrote the first piece of what became this blog a year ago but decided to publish my writings only later; the first line of code was on january 29th. I published 42 articles this year and I currently have eight more as drafts — some of them have been drafts for pretty much the whole year. I have written on other blogs but it’s the first time I managed to write consistently-ish for a full 365 days (I’m quite proud of that). 544 people have been here so far which is not too bad considering I very rarely advertise it. On most days it’s a solid zero page views.

But enough with the statistics! One of the happiest development of the year are the friends I’ve made on the mats. I always felt a very strong bond with the people I constantly train with, as we all do I guess. But with some of them, the friendship has crossed the mats border and we’ve been hanging out together without wearing our fighting-pyjamas. It has grown to the point where those are the friends I enjoy hanging out the most with and I’m grateful I get plenty of that.

Lastly, with some higher belts missing out recently I’m closer and closer to being the rightmost student when we bow and subsequently lacking chalenges when it’s sparing time. This tastes like the end of my time in Troyes when I started to be among the oldest & best students, and finding it harder to progress without getting my ass kicked.

The appreciation for chalenges is something that I should keep in mind in my day to day life, especially now. I’m rather private about these sort of things but since sorta-bjj related, I think I can write this here: I have a girlfriend! And we met through BJJ. I realised this morning that I now have a job I like, no money problems, no significative health issues, good friends and now even someoene to share all of this with. And ok, she wasn’t by my side this morning, but aside from that it’s still pretty much everything I ever asked for, and yet it took me this epiphany to feel truly gratefull and happy.

That’s the hedonic treadmill thing in full action and I should remember to stop & be gratefull, and enjoy the chalenges while they are only so minor.