What I’ve Learnt This Year

Joakim Book
8 min readDec 31, 2021

Strange years provide strange lessons. Break more rules; endure hardship; work your body — go outside! — and beware your often tricksy feelings.

Year-ends are the time for year-reviews. For looking ahead, and for summarising what the past year brought. I’ve seen events high and low, views more stunning than words could capture, happiness and despair deeper than seemed reasonable; life, much much closer.

The following things have occupied my mind, distilling themselves slowly into lessons from this vuelta around the sun. Enjoy!

RULES IN PRACTICE matters more than rules in official edict.
Never did I think I would recommend people to lie more often. But I did. When crowds go mad, when insanity rules, when ordinary rules go out the window and those in political charge renege on their side of the bargain, your normal obligations no longer bind.

Of the many thoughtful conversations I’ve watched Joe Rogan have this year, the episode with Ben Shapiro (#1732, 38:45->) gave voice to something I have harboured for years:

“What people say to pollsters and even how they vote, and how they act in their daily lives are just not connected. I think you vote how you want to perceive yourself: I perceive myself as a good person, therefore I vote for X.”

Most politics is just tawk — words, all words, few of which carry much meaning. Many conversations with friends and strangers contain a surprising amount of similar dishonest grandstanding — certainly in this year of Cuckoo-19 fearmongering. Theatre, pretend behavior, rules that make no sense even on their own (faulty) terms. No thanks.

In the last year, I’ve repeatedly found myself having to ask friends whether they mean rules in practice or rules in edict? For Cuckoo-19 rules, plenty of countries/regions/ shops/people have official rules, but very few people actually follow said rules, or care much for them, let alone enforcing them. If so, your restrictions are much less binding than they officially seem. Reality follow rules in practice, not rules in edict. What do I care if a far-off health official or political goblin *says things*? Word, all words.

VOTE WITH YOUR FEET, per Ilya Somin’s Free To Move that I read this year, became practical reality much faster than anyone could have guessed. If you haven’t yet read it, you probably should.

As Californians have left in troves for Southern liberties, and Australians have exited head-first their newfound prison colony, its message stands loud and clear: voting with your feet is more important than voting at the ballot. It has the added benefit of making a difference.

Some things have turned undeniable this year: If your country fines you for disobeying stupidity, you leave. If your fellow citizens raise their pitchforks, not towards the leaders who deserve them, but towards castigating and persecuting the innocents, you leave.

The borders are open. For now, anyway. You love your country? Great, learn to love another. I have done so about three-four times in my young life. It’s not that tricky, pal.

Don’t want to leave your friends and family? With Cuckoo-19 tyranny, you already have — and it’s not unlikely that some of them are on the tyranny train already. Move; you’ll probably find others worth your time.

If your friends demand your vaxx status before having you over for dinner — lie, disengage, or dodge the question (“I don’t talk about personal medical conditions; more wine?”) — and then swap them out for better friends.

Nobody changes their mind from polite or not-so-polite shallow conversations; your instinct (and mine!) to argue with them over what we think is right is more likely to entrench their predisposition than to win them over. Just leave it alone.

What we’ve learnt in the last years are answers to the immediate questions about every atrocity in human history — How could this happen? Why did nobody speak up? Why were not (more) people refusing to go along with it?
I could never accept the conventional school-age story about World War I — how silly-warmongering and nationalistic Europeans merrily and proudly just sleep-walked into a disastrous Great War.

Rather: what happens in all disasters is that good people refused to speak up in time — through fear, intimidating, ignorance, or naivety.

Then again, it takes a certain kind of courage and willingness to die for what’s right that most of us don’t have. If you think you would be the guy before the tanks in Tiananmen Square; if you think you’d stand up against tyranny; if you think you’d hide the filthy ones, or smuggle Jews out of Poland or Germany in the 1940s; if you think you’ll stand up for the down-trodden when they need it the most. Think again. You most likely won’t.

Most of us are not that heroic. What we might plausibly become is more comfortable breaking immoral rules, even if they are “laws”. Mindless pride or unwavering principles are stuff of fairytales — or heroes we might celebrate in the (unlikely?) event goodness wins.

Instead, defy nonsense when you can. That’s a much more believable proposition — guerilla warfare, breaking rules in practice, purge the news broadcast or Cuckoo-19 number-chasing addiction from your life. Do what you have to.

An old piece of advice — allegedly of Inuit origin and one that I find myself coming back to again and again — says to “Stand your ground if you can, give way if you must.” That advise from a frigid North works in our heated times too.

Play the Cuckoo game to your advantage: Lie about your vaxx status, fake the documents you need to fake, break the rules you need to break, hide income from your snooping authorities, and avoid as much tax as you can.

No, this isn’t a call for anarchy (even though that’s a conversation worth having): it’s a recognition that you’re not obligated to follow immoral and incompetent rules. Almost no country is equipped to enforce the quarantine or mask-wearing or vaxx status restriction, nobody (but perhaps google) can track all of our movements — just go outside even when you’re not allowed to.

ENDURE is the most important word I have focused on this year. Things will get better, though they might take a while. We’re Denmark 1940, with the Nazis rolling in — though my friend convincingly pitches Germany 1935, with Nazi powers entrenched and a decade of terror ahead of us. Perhaps Europe 1914, with disaster looming for a few Lost Generations. A world, not of plenty and bliss but of freedom and upstanding morals, came crashing down at the hands of a tyrannical regime whose will could not be stopped.

I hope that’s not us.

Aguantamos el frío del Ártico, el calor del Trópico
Aguantamos con anticuerpos los virus microscópicos
Aguantamos las tormentas, huracanes, el mal clima

[We endure the Arctic cold and the tropic heat; we endure microscopic viruses with antibodies; we endure the storms, the hurricanes, the bad weather]

With the hindsight view of history, we know that things will get better for the Danes in 1940 or the Germans in 1935 or the Brits in 1914, but it’s not cowardice to refuse the fight. You’re obliged to speak up in the face of evil, but you’re not obliged to make yourself a martyr. This too shall pass. In Denmark’s case it took 5 long years of hard work, of enduring occupation, and misery and subjugation.

Their Swedish neighbours struck an even better bargain, and kept many of their nominal freedoms in exchange for supplying the Nazi war machinery with reliable shipments of iron and letting them free reign through the country. Cowardice? Disloyalty? Sure — but who cares. For years and years I used to think that was disgusting, a dark stain on my homeland’s history. Now I see better. It wasn’t a dark stain; it was seeing things clearly and practically. Any Swedish resistance to the Third Reich, say, 1940, would have been swiftly dealt with, subjecting my ancestors to the occupation or tyranny that their Norwegian or Danish brethren lived through. What would have been the point of that?

Aunque no queramos, aguantamos nuevas leyes
Castigamos al humilde y aguantamos al cruel
[Even though we don’t want them, we endure new laws;
We punish the humble and endure the cruel]

In summarising the lessons of the Cuckoo-19 lockdown, Jeffrey Tucker at Brownstone writes that “there is one force that is the most powerful and yet the most neglected one: a willingness to stand up when it counts”.

I agree. But I recommend it only selectively: turning yourself into a martyr, politically or socially, helps nobody. Disobey where it matters; but when it doesn’t matter or is inevitable, concede. Evade.

Nos creemos la mentira y nadie aguanta la verdad
[We believe the lie and nobody endures the truth]

If they’re normalising tyranny and oppression, you normalise freedom and practicality.

A STRONGER BODY FOR A STRONGER MIND is a must in a world this dark. You need sanity and mental balance to endure the BS you inevitably must endure. And nothing brings mental clarity like physical exhaustion: work harder, lift heavier, go further, eat better.

And above all: Go Outside. Especially if your local authorities tell you not to. Most madness seem less binding from a mountaintop or with the brisk wind in your face. Moments like those have marked the dozen or so days this year where the pandemic and its Cuckoo policies never even touched my mind.

FEELINGS DON’T MATTER, and whoever sticks to them relentlessly don’t matter. Most relationships you have with most people are one-shot games. Oh, you find that offensive?. Pff, those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. BYE. The Bitcoin Cyber Hornets have it right; your feelings are silly — grow up, get real, toughen up. Move the eff on.

The new slogan seems to go Follow the *Sensitive* Science_ — “follow the *sensitive people* and their feelings”. Trusting feelings over facts got us into much of this mess; let’s not get overly carried away by them once again.

On a deeper level, remember that how you feel might not be a true reflection of what actually happened. How you feel might not be correct, might not be reasonable given what the other person(s) did or felt or thought, rather than what you felt or thought they did. Talking to Strangers is hard, friends and loved ones sometimes even harder. Step back, emotionally, and carry more leeway for what the other may or may not intend to convey.

As late as this morning I fell into this trap, being frustrated and annoyed at others for past decisions/mistakes that were my own. Those tricksy feelings of hopeless powerlessness might not be warranted — nothing that a hard, long run up the mountain couldn’t fix.

So, friends. Endure what comes and endure what you must. Speak truth; but lie if you must. Prepare, improve, and work for that which you desire.

Aguantamos lo que vino y aguantamos lo que viene
[We endure what came and we will endure what comes]

Read more, eat better, work harder.


Photo credits: Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash



Joakim Book

Eat steak. Practice yoga. Go outside. Get ₿itcoin.