Zest. Zest is a good word.
I'm doing some maintenance on this blog and happened to be reading some of my old posts from the 2009-2010 era, just before I left Japan. If I had to point out one single difference between the me from then and the me that I am now, it would be my loss of naivety. In those days I had a zest for life that I had undoubtedly lost after moving back to Europe. That started the era of 'the second time I do X' for me, which got me into a lull for a while. Things were still new, just not as new as they were before.
That was several years ago, though. By now I've transitioned to 'the Nth time I do X' stage, and I think coming to terms with this, my middle-aged-ness and my middle-classed-ness has somehow led me to recover some of my former zest. I'm enjoying life lately, and my mind is more open than it's been in the past few years. A lot of the early thoughts I had about life in Japan have crystallized into more solid concepts that I can live my life by. I have made progress. That said, I can't help but miss my naivety. Life was a lot simpler in those days. Since then I realized that a lot of the things I wouldn't even begin to worry about back then were actually a miraculous combination of circumstances and opportunity. I took too many things for granted back then in a way that only naivety could allow me to.
In a way I think the opposite of naivety is analysis paralysis. Naivety means you simply don't even consider so many options, alternatives, circumstances etc. Whereas if you consider too many of those, you may end up in analysis paralysis. I think I've been at fairly extreme ends on both sides of the spectrum, and am at a fairly healthy point on the scale at the moment.
One of the things in which zest clearly shows, at least for me, is photography. The amount of photos I take, the type of photos I take (landscapes, cityscapes, people, opbjects) and the kind of editing I do on them all depend a lot on zest. While looking through my old blog posts I found an old photo I liked, so I decided to see if I could improve on the editing of it. After all, I've got years more experience with Photoshop now, so I should be able to improve upon it a little. The old edit, I thought, was a bit overly adjusted for highlights and contrast, and the colors could use some improvement as well. But when I fired up Photoshop and tried to improve upon my original I couldn't even get close to the quality of the first edit. Then I had a closer look at the first edit and realized that I must have spent quite a lot of time adjusting the local colors and highlights to even get to that version of the photo. I know, my not being able to reach the same quality of edit for that particular photo is hardly a measure of my current zestiness, but it was a moment that made me pause for thought. For reference, here is the first edit, and this is the post that contains it.
"Transitioning from 'the 2nd time I do X' to 'the Nth time I do x' eventually results in getting your zest back" - ?
Either way, I'm zesty right now :D