This Will Be My Year of Depth

going deeper

I keep imagining a tradition I’d like to invent. After you’re established in your career, and you have some neat stuff in your house, you take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started. The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface. ~ David Cain

I came across Cain’s philosophy early last year, and it immediately struck a chord. As a result, I started applying it in some areas of my life. It tied well with my intentions for 2021, and there’s been a remarkable shift already. So, I continue in the same vein in 2022 as well.

Some refer to this practice as Depth Year, others as a year of not buying anything new, etc. That is, I’ve come across many variations. However, going deeper for me means not starting any new creative projects, this year. And also continue with being intentional about what I choose to do, consume, nurture and find value in.

Time permitting, I might write in detail about each of the areas below in future posts or update you on my progress with going deeper in six months time. We’ll see. But for now, the following is a glimpse into how I’ve categorized the areas I’ll be deepening this year:

Choose what NOT to do

In my personal life and out of necessity, there are things I’ve let go of already. And I feel good about those decisions. In my creative life, there are many things I’m not doing this year. How I go about this largely depends on practicality, desirability, reciprocity and carving out time to do something I enjoy, every day.

Return to (almost) abandoned projects

Besides eventually publishing my latest poetry collection, my biggest aim is to complete some of the various creative projects I’ve started, in the past few years. First, I hope to pitch some of my current writings, instead of starting another long work. Second, I want to deepen my knowledge in other artistic endeavours I already practice, instead of learning a completely new skill. Because truth be told, if I had taken time to develop these artistic skills, I’d have mastered at least one by now.

Find value in what I already have

Despite the fact that I’m more of a page poetry writer and reader as opposed to performance poetry, coming from a culture of oral poetry I know that poetry can be shared and enjoyed in many ways. Hence, I’m revitalizing some of my previously published poems by exploring other media or ways to present them. I’m having fun with some individual pieces as they decide which direction to go, and as seen with WoMan. This might be a long process, fortunately I’m not in a rush.

Nurture authentic relationships

As a writer and creative, I believe in surrounding myself with a community of creatives for inspiration and support. I’ve spoken about this in the past. This year, and as I continue to nurture genuine relationships, I’m particularly looking for a community of writers to help me grow professionally. By this I mean, writers who are writing to publish. The aim would be to motivate and challenge each other out of our comfort zones. Most of you know, I write poetry and creative nonfiction, at this point. It’s along the same lines, I’m looking to expand these writing relationships.

In a nutshell, this is what my going deeper, not wider means. So, depth is my word for 2022. Of course, with all these projects I aim to finish, this also means I’ll be retreating to myself more. Nonetheless, I’ll continue with Project Finding Beauty & Writing & Living categories, and as usual all posts will publish on Sundays.

As always, I’d also love to hear ways you are approaching your creative life, this year. Please do share!

p.s. If interested, you can read about Cain’s philosophy directly from him. 

p.p.s. If you’ve missed Dear 2021, You Should Know, a poem in a way that gives some context into why I choose to go deeper, you can find it at Spillwords.


Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and blogger. Her blog focuses on poetry and creative nonfiction, and also features poets and their books.

19 Comments

  1. Loved Cain’s philosophy. Best of luck for a year of going deeper. The best kind of travel

  2. Didn’t know if Cain’s philosophy though I’ve been practicing it. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely be educating myself. Enjoy the process of going deeper. Cheers to a wonderful year ahead 🥂

  3. I love this idea of going deeper! Thank you for sharing Cain’s quotation. Appreciating and better utilizing what we already have, and have accomplished, are ideal goals for the new year. 💜

  4. Going deeper, finding new ways to appreciate what we already have, nurturing the good in our lives sound like a fantastic idea. I hope you get all you want out of it. I shall keep my eye on your updates.

  5. Mind…blown. This concept is so simple yet so profound. I love it. I need to sit with it for a while, see how it could help calm my frantic life.

  6. Khaya, wishing you an amazing and creative year within your realms of depth! Your incisive and thorough goals for the year will stand you in good stead and it will be exciting to follow you as the year moves on!

    Like others I enjoyed reading about Cain’s philosophy and after a year in 2021 of many new events, creative projects I can empathise with stepping back, not needing to pursue new things, purchases!

    Haven an fabulous 2022, my friend! hugs xx ❤️

  7. I really like this idea, Khaya! A lot of times, we have small projects we begin or don’t finish along the way. This going deeper really causes one to sit with one’s self and determine what’s the priority.

  8. I hadn’t heard of Cain or his philosophy but I realize I already subscribe to it, though honestly I weave in and out of it, instead of living there continuously. I find a great deal of personal satisfaction in going deeper with many things that I do.

    When I have a need to go shopping I love to go thrift shopping as I find something “new” to maybe refresh something I already own, or to find goodies for my family. I feel good about doing this because I know I’m not adding to the manufacturing/discarding burden being placed on our environment, but am extending the life of goods already manufactured.

    My latest project was to reorganize my daughter’s dining room and turn it into a craft room. Next is her tools in the garage. For those two projects I look for baskets, boxes and containers for organizing and corralling items. I’m not running to the container store to buy fancy organizing stuff but challenging my creativity to reimagine how to use the thrifted items.

    Love the thoughts in this post, wonderfully encouraging words!

  9. Hi Tamara, first thanks so much for your visit and reading. I appreciate it. As for Cain’s philosophy, it seems a lot of people already practice it without necessarily giving the practice a name. Like yourself, in my life, I’ve always weaved in and out of it but not so much when it comes to my creativity.

    So, good to hear you are a fellow thrifter and that you’re contributing towards a circular economy.:-) Thrift stores are a treasure and joy, so many valuable things one can find there and patience always pays off. Your latest projects sound exciting with challenging your creativity. I’m sure they will be rewarding for both you and your daughter. Have fun with it! And thanks once again, I’m happy you found this post encouraging.

  10. It’s both exciting and challenging to map out my year like this. But I promise to share it all; failures and successes. 🙂

  11. My pleasure Khaya! It’s always wonderful to discover new thoughts and the people behind them! Yes, thrifting has become a passion, after first being a necessity. I discovered the joy of hunting for great quality things at prices which allowed me to easily shop for others. I never felt poor even during the years when money was scarce. Later I discovered the satisfaction of doing good for the environment, and vowed to keep doing this even during years when my paycheck increased!

  12. Cain’s philosophy is quite sane and rational. I’ve been thinking along similar lines myself. I think this is a good year for putting down deep roots in what we have and growing ourselves.

  13. I love how you put it, “sane and rational.” 😀 Because it is indeed insane how we clutter our lives with things we don’t need. Let’s grow to ourselves, I second that!

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