Tabula Rasa

Sometimes you just need to start over.

Rebuild things from the ground up.

Whether you need to tear everything down yourself or maybe things have come down on their own, regardless, every once in a while you may have to hit the reset button and begin again.

In 2011, I began the process of rebuilding my life from the ground floor. Facing several health challenges, I took to the sport of running and started making several other life changes that resulted in healthier eating, losing over 50 lbs, and eventually running long-distance races. I documented most of that journey on a previous site.

I’m older now, my knees and ankles remind me that I’m getting older with each passing day. Not only that, a lot of “life” has happened since then.

And as expected, when that much time passes, routines and priorities change.

I don’t have to tell you how challenging of a year 2020 has been for many people. I was one of the lucky ones - I’ve managed to keep my job throughout the entire pandemic, my family has stayed healthy, and overall we’ve had relatively little stress throughout all that has happened. I don’t take that for granted.

As we slowly begin to turn the corner into a new year, the universal hope is that 2021 will be the year of renewal and rebirth for those who have endured hardships over the past twelve months.

For me, 2020 has provided the opportunity to slow down and spend a lot of time composting my thoughts by digging into my current routines and rhythms of life. One of the exercises I conducted was to think about my personal growth over the last nine years. I’ve thought about what has worked well and what hasn’t; what moved me forward and what has weighed me down; and what practices I want to reinstitute in my life to make the next decade as good as the last.

Which leads me to this site…

I’ve always enjoyed writing. Even if I never share anything publicly, the practice of routinely writing each day has been a tremendous benefit in my life. I’ve waded through a lot of life’s problems with words on a page. I’ve even written a few books. I’ve blogged off and on throughout the years via a free Wordpress.com site.

But I’ve never really had a corner of the Internet to call my own. I’ve always been a transient when it comes to creation on the web - never liking to be tied down to a single service or willing to be cornered into a specific camp on the web.

My interests are scattered and my curiosities are always in motion.

I used to think that was a liability when it came to building a more permanent home on the web. Lack of focus would mean there is no real audience that would resonate with the things I would create and make available on the site.

But the mistaken assumption that I’ve had all along is that if I build a personal site, its primary purpose is to serve the interests of other people. In otherwords, the I mistakenly believed that the content I publish and deploy should always benefit and provide value to those who visit the site.

Recently, my philosophy has changed.

I have two general ideas that have informed this change in paradigm. First, the idea that Writing is Thinking has transformed my relationship with how I approach writing. One of the best articles I found for this concept is Steph Smith’s article, Writing is Thinking: Learning to Write with Confidence. My own writing practice falls into the following two categories:

  1. Journaling - shorter, more stream-of-thought styled writing. Recording of events, initial observations, and reactions. Less polished. More frequent. Rarely updated after published.
  2. Long-form Writing - longer development cycle consisting of a continual refinement of thought. Analyzing the central idea from as many angles as possible, questioning assumptions, answering opposing positions, revising the words you use to make sentences and topics as concise and clear as possible. Starting with a messy jumble of partially developed ideas and polishing them into a coherent structure that effectively communicates an arguement, position, or idea.

Admittedly, the idea of “writing is thinking,” and its relationship to my decision to begin building out this personal site, is somewhat a selfish pursuit. Whether it’s publishing a journal-style post that reflects general events, observations, etc. or it’s longer-form writing that is continually being refined over time, both serve as a way to help me process, understand, and engage the world.

The process and end result are, first and foremost, for my own benefit.

That’s not saying that other people won’t gain satisfaction or benefit from the writings that are published here, but this site simply serves as a scrapbook and archive of my thoughts, projects, and interests - a record of one man’s intentional pursuit at becoming a better human.

The second idea that I have come to appreciate is the idea of Building in Public. I give all the credit to this ephiphany to the Indie Hackers community. One of the core concepts you find if you browse the Indie Hackers forums is the concept of sharing the process of whatever it is that you are building - the good, bad, and the ugly. The idea of building in public has been around for a while and has been referenced by many different people in many different ways (my favorite of which is the term “work with the garage door up”, but the general concept is to “show your work.”

These two ideas, together, have led me to a decision to break new ground on my own little piece of the web.

So, I’ve wiped the slate clean. Started over. I’ve nuked my entire archive of posts (over 6 years worth) on my Wordpress.com site and I am starting with a blank page. Something that is more robust, fuller in depth and larger in scope than a simple blog.

Goals of this site

Overall, my vision for this site is for it to be a place to think. To throw ideas against the wall, poke and prod them and see what endures. It’s a place to work through questions and investigate curiosities. A place to experiment and document. A place to tinker and building things in public. A place to engage with anyone else who finds the things I’m thinking about and working on as interesting as I do. A place that, over time, archives my push toward becoming a better human. I fully admit that this site will likely hold a bunch of stuff that is important to me, but has no value to others. And I’m okay with that.

Structurally, the site will initially comprise of the following areas:

  • Journal - More frequent updates, thoughts, commentary, etc. Writing that is timelined.
  • Articles - Finished, longer, more evergreen pieces.
  • Living Docs - A place to “think” in public. Notes and tidbits around specific topics or ideas. Pieces here may eventually migrate their way to the Articles section, but this will be the workbench for longer-form work.
  • Books & Guides - published works of fiction and non-fiction. Some for sale, others for free.

As with anything that is expected to continue for any amount of time, I suspect the structure and style might change. Some things may get added, some removed. But overall, my goal is to build a playground that allows me to follow my curiousities and refine my thinking.

So, welcome. I hope you’ll dig around a bit. Maybe find something that piques your interest as much as it does mine. If you’d like to chat about anything you find here, feel free to send me an email. I’m always happy to meet other curious travelers along the way.

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