The Ends of Beginnings
I wrote this two years ago at the start.
A misled life Struck down with a mortal blow The American dream rejected In favor of the unknown
I rewind my life Tearing down success Setting fire to all I desired But never needed This understanding eludes me If this life is all wrong Then something must be right… Right?
I have love, success, comfort Shouldn’t that be enough? But how could it be When I have lost myself?
I am important too I tell myself Affirmation or justification? They are twins from within
Fear leads my way Sending me afar Pulling me close Tearing me apart
Eventually this path will reach an end Through action or resignation Until then, pain and confusion Are the scars that define my life
Since then I’ve changed my actions.
My thoughts and beliefs have been all over the place, but my values have remained the same. I want to help people.
Normally I write about motivations. Today I want to write about those actions.
I sought help. I started therapy. I had been on anti-anxiety/anti-depressants for years, and they had lost their effectiveness. I’ve been completely off of them almost a year now.
I tried, to the best of my abilities, to break the harmful cycles in my life. I was successful, but by the end of it I had quit my job and started down the road to divorce. Within a year I alienated my best friend by overburdening her with my problems without helping her with her own. I honestly didn’t understand, but that doesn’t change anything.
I discovered how little was left after I left a job I spent the better part of 20 years at. I kick myself for the good friends I let slip away in favor of working.
At the age of 40, I had to find my own apartment and live alone for the first time in my life. I had gone from family to roommates to girlfriend to wife without ever fending for myself.
Over time I came to understand why no one seemed to like living with me. Unknown unknowns of housework after a life of privilege. That and the unprocessed emotional baggage that I’m still working through.
I made the choice to use retirement money to buy myself time to figure out a plan and heal. Another sign of privilege.
I looked for answers wherever I went.
I found philosophy. The Buddhist idea of focusing on the whole instead of the individual really spoke to my background in distributed systems.
I decided to find a way to help whoever I can.
I learned how hard that can be when individuals who need help so often have very good reasons to distrust those who offer help. It’s easier to pay someone a low wage than get them to accept help offered in good faith.
I moved to Worcester, Massachusetts and opened a workshop in an area at the start of gentrification. My goal is to teach people in the neighborhood how to get ahead online, so they have a better chance of growing with the community instead of being forced out.
My initial thought was to teach tech skills specifically, but these days I really enjoy helping friends with problems firmly outside of my expertise, to give me a reason to expand.
I collected a group of people who are interested in helping me build tools to enable communities. We want to help communities keep the money internally by making it as easy to order locally as it would be to order from Amazon.
I learned to invest in people. Both in terms of money and time. I’m a good listener, and I’m good at solving problems.
People are capable of amazing things, but many of the best are struggling. Sometimes the cost to help someone create something beautiful is relatively small. Sometimes they just need to have a burden lifted a little in order to readjust.
“It’s beauty in the struggle n****a, ugliness in the success”
— J Cole
I came to realize all of the opportunities I squandered over the years. The brilliant ideas that I saw coming, and wasn’t the one to implement. The chance to have the future created by someone who isn’t just focused on getting rich, like so many appear to be these days.
I spent a *lot* of time talking to people I fundamentally disagree with. It gave me some context for the idea that belief can be just as important as Truth. It’s very tough to overcome a popular false narrative. It’s nearly impossible to overcome one that is true, but misleading.
If you want to change how people think, you need to lead with your actions. Talking about a potential future can make a nice story, but you better build it if you want something to actually change.
I learned to get creative on problem solving. Instead of focusing on Poverty, I focus on making it easier for people to work for each other. Instead of focusing on the rich, I want to chip away at our motivations for working for their benefit. I’ll write about my motivations, but my actions are more practical.
I’m quickly approaching the point that I suspected would come.
I’m just about out of funds. I’m going to take a dip into the real struggle for the first time, just like everyone else. When I come out the other side, I’m going to lift as many others as I can.
I’m joining the people I’ve been planning for.