Self-Renewal

Sunrise

Yesterday morning, through bleary, tired eyes, I sat awake in bed watching the sun crest the horizon. As the light cascaded across the endless ripples of the Gulf, the clouds dispersing under the surge of warmth and light, my mind embraced an untainted state of clarity and awareness. Lacking the binding tautness of caffeine or, conversely, the drowsy specter of alcohol, I allowed my eyes to shed their focus, my ears to block out the muffled sound of crashing waves, and my hands to lie dormant atop the duvet cover. Unencumbered by digital stimuli, I arrived at a moment of sheer simplicity -- a feeling all too difficult to come by in this interconnected environment.

Having lost my grandfather, endured a number of severe health scares for others, resigned from my job, established my own company, begun working with a number of startups, and become utterly self-sufficient -- to name only a few situations -- my mind has rarely taken a moment of pause lately. Racing from meeting to meeting, plane to plane, and obligation to obligation, the person beneath the persona has been cast aside -- the value system therein lost amid serious discussions of life and death, and ridiculously fruitless discussions of health and dental insurance. Support has been constant from friends, family, and mentors, but even despite their most selfless efforts to help me along, I had -- simply put -- not come to understand or appreciate this new set of circumstances in which I find myself.

Chief among the agents of distraction is the digital world. Although the Internet has come to exist as a societal glue, it strikes me that glue is primarily useful in its binding properties, but conversely harmful when incorrectly applied. Utterly intertwined with my digital profiles, my weblog, and my forthcoming company, the glue had become a hurdle to combat -- a slowing agent, rather than a fastening utility. My worldly circumstances have undergone radical change, but this digital world had hidden the significance therein. Just as a gambler feels impervious to financial ramifications while distracted by bright Las Vegas lights, I took no moment to pause and ponder, instead favoring a headlong rush into the unknown.

The path before me is unquestionably exciting, but a blind and heedless sprint into this new environment is certainly not the correct action to take. There is plenty to be said for moving on -- looking past moments of uncertainty and negativity -- but I'd say there is plenty more to be said about introspection upon such moments. To about face, stare at problems without fear or shame, and to absorb the lessons therein. Thus, whether I chose to do so consciously or not, as I sat there lifeless on the bed, I decidedly took stock in my life. Staring out into the water, I dealt with my fears, doubts, and questions, and I found myself at a stage upon which I can move forward intelligently.

The Internet -- and the businesses that subsist upon its infrastructure -- move at a dazzling pace. Considering this past weekend, Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson resigned after a year at the helm. In this lubricated environment, media outlets rained upon Mr. Thompson's alleged indiscretions and, indeed, Yahoo! itself. Satisfied and onto the next topic of discussion, few of these same outlets seem to have noticed that Mr. Thompson has reportedly issued a personal statement citing Thyroid cancer as the reasoning for his resignation.

Accountability is one of the most fundamentally important aspects of the human experience. It is a cornerstone to a value system based upon integrity, morality, and good nature. And yet, in this glitzy, fast-paced world, so few people have ably sustained a grasp upon such standards. Success is no longer measured in affability and personality, but in pace and the eagerness to move to the next thing. In my book of references, such behavior is tantamount to cowardice, and is certainly undeserving of my attention.

Herein lies the reasoning for the existence of ONE37 and, indeed, the value of such an endeavor. Whether it's business, politics, design, or media, the heart of all matters lies with people. In sustaining a personal weblog, I hope to remind others of such a fact. Beyond regurgitated press releases and lifeless, factory-produced critiques, there exists a landscape of people that comprise an audience, a readership, a consumer-base, and a community. Bridging the gap between the people and the lifeless, observing humanity in the most digital of arts, and discerning ostensible good from bad is, in my eyes, an endlessly important endeavor, and I'm outrageously proud that people choose to read my contributions within this sphere.

For these reasons, I take extensive issue with the attitude demonstrated by Ben Brooks in recent weeks. Although Mr. Brooks is certainly an intelligent man, his recent post concerning the perceived value of his writing struck me as endlessly self-entitled and self-centered. The value of writing should not be measured in currency, but in the reactions and genuine appreciation of the reader. As we all vie for attention and the spotlight, the reward is for an audience to simply read and distribute our words. Perhaps it takes time to produce and money to sustain, but producing a personal weblog is ultimately a matter of personality. Discarding design, advertising, and diction, the production of a weblog is analogous to a discussion with a friend over drinks. Covering costs is certainly understandable, but projecting worth upon your work -- particularly when it exists outside the bounds of traditional monetary value -- is an endlessly fruitless endeavor. Those who have carved a full-time position out of their weblogs (i.e., John Gruber and Shawn Blanc), have done so by creating measurably wonderful work, cultivating affable personalities, and by lending a certain degree of accountable humility to their writing. Neither John nor Shawn would have ever dreamed to argue that their writing transcends the bounds of current financial reward -- that they were somehow worth more than all others. Instead, they both transitioned when the work facilitated it -- when their work began to demand their full-time attention.

I created ONE37 just over six months ago -- a milestone I sadly (and unknowingly) forgot. During that time, an enormous amount has happened in my life. Chief amongst those changes, however, is that I've undergone a radical and invaluable phase of learning. I've come to appreciate the place of technology in my life, to focus upon what matters to me, to pursue a career in something I'm passionate about, and I've submerged myself in a wonderful community of thinkers, creators, and innovators. I've learned to pace my consumption, to appreciate standards and accountability, and, most of all, I've enjoyed wonderful milestones.

For all of the words in this post, I simply mean to say that I've found my place, I've found my pace, and I plan to keep writing -- without any expectation for reward -- for as long as my mind may allow it.

Sitting there, watching the sunrise, the reasoning for building this website, my own company, and utterly reshaping my life's trajectory came into stark contrast. Bereft of connection to the digital world, I found the desire to share this philosophy regarding our interconnected world -- to encourage the relationship between life and digital life. Such a path has brought me endless value, and I certainly hope it does for you too.