Depth Year (noun) is a fixed period of time wherein no new experiences are sought. Rather, expanded value in the possessions and hobbies already under pursuit are pursued, those skills and experiences "deepened" through focused attention.
I came across the idea of a depth year in one of those moments of confluence where you hear about the same concept from two or three completely different sources almost simultaneously, in the same week or even the same day. A news article. A blog post. A podcast. A co-worker.
I don’t know if it’s widely considered ‘simple-life’ canon at this point, but personally I found the notion in fairly synchronous harmony with my own notions of incremental life simplification. A depth year takes away the burden of novelty. A depth year gives one permission to focus on finishing something rather than looking for a new challenge. A depth year replaces the stress of choice with the pursuit of enhancing experience from what we’ve already chosen.
Going in depth is a kind of meditative grounding on one’s life, and I thought I would dabble in that concept… but with my own twist, of course.
See, rather than declare that my whole everything-that-I-do life was going move into a phase of uniquely seeking more depth in the things I already have or the things already I do… in general… I thought I would pick out a few things that I know I’m not nearly deep enough about and focus on them. Week by week. Three, maybe four things.
Thus, this week: gaming.
…and instead of a whole year, something slightly more managable: six months.
I’m going deep on my video gaming for six months… which may sound ridiculous when the philosophy of the idea hinges on the notion of pursuing a cooking class that you’ve started or learning a new language or honing a skill with a musical instrument. I choose video games?
Yet, hear me out: the thing is that I find myself in possession of a fairly respectable video game collection. Last year I jumped on board with the whole Nintendo Switch wave, and I’ve been slowly acquiring new titles and new interests… even before I’ve got the full value from the last one I bought. I’m a 40+ year old dad, with limited time and a large budget. I tend to find that even against my own better judgement, what I lack in the time to play games I make up for in the novelty of new games. I buy something, play it a few weeks or a month, then move onto the next shiny thing. And then I feel guilty that I made it 30% … 40%… half way through that game and never picked it up again. It’s a mental weight. It is something that is supposed to bring me joy and fun and entertainment, but instead adds to the anxiety of my free time hours.
A depth year (or a depth six) isn’t so firmly defined that one must be piously serious about the outcome. For mine, I’m just going to put a hiatus on buying or downloading new video games. For six months, I’m only going to grind through the titles already in my possession, and maybe even beat a few of them.