Back to my roots & on a new path of exploration

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Jul 25, 2020
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A few years ago I realized I had become annoyingly vanilla. I had stopped inventing and instead listened to how things were "supposed" to be done. "Corporate Client A wants this like that," they'd say. And so I followed the rules.

As most people here probably discovered long ago, the so-called recipe for success is flawed for most. I'd heard it said but the truth was hard for me to internalize.

I had become a hamster in a wheel. I needed to find a way out.

First I moved to Europe and then to Asia. The environment changes gifted me with culture and knowledge, but the escape I needed was not geographical. I needed to change the way I thought about things and approached the world. I needed to become a tinkerer again.

I moved back to the states and started returning to my roots. I carved out time to play and to experiment. All said and done, this is the story that epitomizes why I am here and what I hope to contribute:

When people ask me about my proudest achievement I always tell them about how one of my startups got acquired by a recognizable company or about my experience as a Division I All-American athlete who was recruited to play in the Olympics.

But in the back of my head I think about this time, twenty years ago or so, when I received a Most Helpful Member award on a forum called AskEarth. It's by far my proudest achievement.

In third or fourth grade my dad (who worked for IBM) gave me his old laptop. I figured out how to connect to the Internet via our squeaky modem that clogged up the phone line. Everything changed. I started buying 2600, exchanged letters with prisoners, and mail ordered a pamphlet of potion recipes.

I took it all in, pursued my interests, and tinkered in the world.

During this time I discovered AskEarth. If you don't know the place, it was like Quora, but from the good ole' days of the Internet. People cared for each other. Total strangers saved marriages (or at least consoled the people leaving them), talked people through financial crises, and much more.

I was obsessed. Always questioning, always inspired, always offering my best young-self advice.

AskEarth taught me how big the world is and how important it is to care for others. I learned to ask questions and to record what matters.

And then I stopped. I never spoke of AskEarth to anyone. I was the only person I knew who liked computers, and so I returned to regular life. I turned into the mushy vanilla person who looked for answers on different continents. I walked the earth but did not venture to change it.

Then, finally, I realized I'd lost touch with my soul as a curious creator and inventor. I started rethinking the way I work as a digital marketer. i jumped back into the forums I'd left long ago and gave myself permission to tinker, to learn, to build, and to care again.

AskEarth has been gone for years, but when I encountered a post by Ccarter I was immediately reminded of the generosity and open-world feeling I used to experience every time I logged in to AskEarth. I read his post and have literally thought about it every day for two weeks.

The knowledge and people here are what I've been seeking. I lost it for a bit, but I am a questioner and a builder at heart. I'm ready to absorb this great big world again and eager to experiment. And maybe, if I'm lucky, I can be helpful to others as well.