📍 writing from Boulder, CO

Marfa, TX

So I don’t know. Where are we now. My mind has been blown. The world has a greater capacity to surprise me than I have the capacity to predict its surprises. That much has been true for a while but just seems to become more and more true as time goes on.

Mere days after writing about how nice it’s been settling into my nest and taking my daily walks, I set off on a 2,500 mile adventure through San Diego, Austin, and Marfa, TX.

It was a visit back into nomad mode. A remembrance of why I left nomad mode. An unforgettable, magical time with some of the most brilliant people I’m honored to call friends. And an exhausting, sleep-depriving blur of unsettlement.

there were no fast cars so someone flew me #

I wanted to drive myself. I scoured dozens of car rental sites for anything with decent horsepower: there was nothing. I don’t know if this is a summer thing, a covid thing, or a supply chain thing. I expected to be able to rent at least a Camaro to California. I was wrong. So I spent the extra day resting up for what would be an intense few weeks. I should’ve taken a week to pre-charge.

Ocean Beach, CA

Nancy and I landed in San Diego within an hour of each other, and within 2 hours we were eating burritos on the beach at sunset and laughing at the absurdity of being back together, at this place. The last time I saw her was leaving our cabaña as she was heading south to hike Torres del Paine and I was headed north to Mexico City.

Our sunny reunion was spent in a tiny 0.5 bedroom shack in Ocean Beach, walking distance to the ocean and the grungiest characters I’d seen since Oceanside. An odd combination of beach life hippies, acai shops, drifters, amphetamine-fueled mechanics, and spiritual teachers gives the town a particular flavor, a stark contrast to the quiet yachts of Silver Strand and the skyline views of Mission Hills.

These places let you enter island time – space with a temporal measure unconcerned with clocks but tied to the rise and fall of the sun and tides. Each hour at the beach is a distinct experience: early morning surfers float on glassy water, midday sunbathers bathe and kids build sand castles, couples watch the sunset, and groups dance around fires along the beach under the stars.

Ocean Beach, CA

There’s a particular state of mind I enjoy near the Pacific ocean; a distinct “fuck it” attitude. An openness to experience and lack of concern with other people’s opinion of my subjective experience. Why would I stress about spreadsheets and programming errors when the ocean is a three minute walk away? Why concern myself with much of anything at all?

Perhaps it’s living near a body of water so large no single group of people can own or control it. A reminder that much of earth is still too vast; too wild to plop a border around and own. Maybe also it’s the attitude one must bring when entering the ocean, whether on a boat or surfboard or without anything at all. A hubmle recognition of one’s limits and a respect for forces far older and more powerful than us.

The ocean will always be a special place in my life. I’m a mountain boy for now – I need my shaded hammock spots and tree-lined mountaintops, but I’ll always cherish my time near the ocean.

music, water, and beautiful skies. Downtown San Diego, CA

then a Tesla drove me to Austin, TX #

CJ admiring sand at White Sands National Park, NM

Apart from Ubers and short joyrides in Teslas, I’d never driven in one – or been driven by one – for extended periods of time. Our two day journey via Las Cruces, NM was a crash course in cross-country EV trips and the benefits and frictions of crossing vast distances by battery power.

This was the healthiest road trip I feel I’ve ever done. Stopping every ~2.5-3h for ~15-30min means I get to stretch my legs and pay attention to my body. A stark contrast to a combustion car where the only things between myself and the destination is the emptiness of the fuel tank and the fullness of my bladder. I was able do to my stretching routine in the parking lot and we threw frisbees around because, why not?

It might also be the weirdest. Full Self Driving Beta alters my relationship to AI and the very experience of driving. Vast portions were handled by the AI: lane changes, speed limit adjustments, and the general hum-drummery of keeping a car between two white lanes for hundreds and hundreds of miles. You still have to pay attention, though: it watches your gaze and asks for a nudge on the wheel every ~30 seconds to make sure you’re still there and awake.

White Sands National Park, NM

The car has a personality. It takes a while to learn and develop trust with it. I feel I’m a reasonably confident driver, and I enjoy driving. Having a computer take on that responsibility, yet task me with taking over should things go awry isn’t the best trade. It’s strange to think most of the people in the Beta program didn’t consent to being in it; they just happen to be driving next to someone who did.

Yet it’s not so different from people agreeing to not drive tired or drunk when they get their license and some of them doing it anyway: roads are a shared, chaotic space with both known and unknown dangers. The only goal worth achieving is navigating safely through them, whether aided by caffeine or neural networks. I’m far more likely to buy an EV now. I’ll wait a bit longer for the self-driving functionality though.

I went to Austin and nearly melted #

A friend said we might be the first group of people to congregate in Austin in the humid summer heat to try and do thinking. Alas, half the group was already there so we figured we could stock the fridge with enough bubblers to keep us all hydrated through it. No amount of bubbler is enough for late-Austin humidity. Repeating the same lesson my friends had learned months before, I too discovered the importance of moving slow and scouting out shade wherever I could find it.

our doodles

Our goal was 10 days of shared co-existing, co-working, and co-writing time to help us find the language to communicate who we are and the web of projects we’ve collectively been producing. We also had fun – swimming in Barton Springs, karting near the F1 track, playing board games, and an endless variety of delicious taco shops and cafes helped us get to know each other and make some great memories.

the Pavilion

Each morning we’d gather in the Pavilion (or a nearby coffee shop) and spend 2-3 hours sharing space with each other. Journaling, reading or just getting lost in conversation. It was essential to letting each of us feel grounded, by attending to our personal practices so we could be as present as possible for our shared ones.

This relationship between solo and shared practice has been a theme in our work together: from a group of people consistently showing up to practice together, community emerges. Which leads us to believe community is a verb: a dynamic system built on shared practices and rituals. These practices reveal values, and values determine what the community wants to put its resources and time into.

So we’re building tooling for communities, starting with those we’re embedded in. Tooling to help coordinate within and communicate beyond. The first instantiation of this is called Ourlog. You can along with our research and explorations on Mirror.xyz.

It’s exciting (and a little scary) to finally be bringing our philosophy and work into the world. We have a lot planned and it’s been an amazing journey so far. If you want to learn more, send me an email or give us a follow on Twitter: @relationalorg.

Maybe what I had yesterday was a reminder of the bigger picture; the longer-term perspective. A perspective that can’t help but fill me with wonder and confidence and the faith for a brighter future for humanity. The recognition that small things don’t really matter. That things are going to be ok.

A reminder that most important thing is the love we have for ourselves and for each other. trip in the trees

an incredible week. So grateful we took the initiative to gather together, to live together and walk around and drink coffee and tea and bubblers together and just spend a bunch of time soaking in each other’s idiosyncratic senses of humor and modes of inquiry. [[2022-W35]]

I can’t believe I kept moving for a year and a half. it was like this never-ending thing, constantly re-learning, re-mapping, letting go of habits and routines (whether good or bad) – simply because the environment which enabled them was no longer able to sustain them. this in turn opened space to discover and instill new habits, but these things can’t be rushed and can’t just be swapped through over and over again. [[2022-08-28]]

I don’t know how to name this set of feelings swirling around. There’s too many to untangle and separate out. So many patterns around us. The smallest daily things stack up into effects much larger than we can imagine. the people we spend time with are who we become. the people who are around us are part of us. it’s about connections, it’s about the who; so much more than the what or the why. [[2022-08-27]]

consistent practice, earnest approaches to relating to the world, more fuck-ups, more mistakes. and remembering there will always be someone much smarter than I am, much more successful, more attuned, less anxious, whatever. that doesn’t matter. what matters is how diligently I show up and Do The Work [[2022-08-16]]

every communication has two possible responses: a reaction and a response. strive to respond and seek the same from others [[2022-08-08]], wise words from a friend

I have a room where I can go in, light a candle, lock the door, and enjoy fresh hot water pouring down from above me and clean myself with a variety of soaps and shampoos to my heart’s content, and then dry myself with my own towel [[2022-08-02]], from my gratitude journal

White Sands National Park, NM
This is Taco, he's a rescue and a bit timid but eventually warms up to you
Thanks for a lovely hike, Jen!

Jen and I connected early covid on Twitter and this was our first time meeting each other in person! Check out her thinking and explorations here.

Pasquale and CJ playing Rockbush, at El Calpiso in Marfa, TX
Nancy, Alex, Sam, Mila and I at DAY.MVS
The coolest bushes. Boulder, CO