Eden Chen

Reflections on 2021

Eden Chen December 30, 2021

“If we really believe what we say we believe- if we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a “wandering to find home”, why should we not look forward to the arrival. There are, aren’t there, only three things we can do about death: to desire it, to fear it, or to ignore it. The third alternative, which is the one the modern world calls “healthy” is surely the most uneasy and precarious of all.” -CS Lewis

The last part of 2021 didn’t go the way I thought it would. I knew it was going to be rough when before the pilot landed the plane he said, “two other planes have made the landing so we’re going to give it a try.” “Try” is never something you want to hear when you’re in the air. It went on to be the most turbulent landing I’ve ever experienced. A flight attendant told me that he had only experienced a more turbulent landing once. So as you do as life flashes before your eyes, I tried to get my affairs in order, thinking through my life. My scattered thoughts were

  1. I got life insurance on myself for Pragma so at least we’ll have a bit more runway if I die
  2. I’m sad our kids won’t get to experience life
  3. What will I say to as many people in the plane as I can to communicate the gospel if they announce that this plane has some critical failure

That wouldn’t be the only time we escaped death on the trip as our whole family (with few exceptions) went on to get covid when we landed including my in-laws, and my parents. We’ve been constantly surrounded by death for 2 years now. Carolyn and I spent most of the year watching 3 seasons of The Leftovers on HBO (highly recommended), a show that is centered around death and uncertainty. A couple of the actors reflected after the show was finished, that most people aren’t comfortable sitting in grief but if they do, there’s real value that can come out of it.

As strange as it sounds, I’m thankful to dance with death twice, as I had begun to ignore it. I was surprised at the peace and contentment I felt but it’s given me the opportunity to reflect on how I want to spend my time.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil -Ephesians 5:15

My biggest reflection on what I want to improve on this year is that I’m addicted to activity, typically stuff that is characterized as short term, fast, and transactional – things like responding to emails, buying shoes, looking for deals, fantasy basketball, and trading stocks. Short term tasks make me think that I’m using my time well, but aren’t really fruitful. I have a really hard time with tasks that have long term payoffs – reading, writing, exercising, thinking strategically, coaching and developing others, and building friendships and relationships. I’m making some changes like, moving all my money out of an account that lets me trade, moving my phone charger out of my room, deleting all shopping apps, rebuilding my schedule to focus more time on learning, strategic planning, and relationship building.

Finally, I want to encourage myself and others, in a post that’s largely centered around death that this life is a mysterious and magical one. In Psalm 8, the poet writes, “when I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” The author’s reflections are first that nature is incredible, but even more importantly that the creator of all of that nature is mindful of us. I want to spend my time reflecting and experiencing these things.

Books I read in 2021

Main Podcasts for 2021

TV Shows watched in 2021

  • The Leftovers
  • Game of Thrones
  • Mare of Easttown
  • Ted Lasso
  • Olive Kitteridge

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