Hello World (at 50)

I’m turning fifty today. The predominant nature of my thoughts about this milestone over the past few days has been sadness. Sadness at the reality of mortality, unfulfilled potential, and from a growing recognition that I’m not going to ‘work this all out’ before it’s too late. Sadness also at the loss I see around me in the natural world, and in some elements of western culture (manners, patience, civility, attention). But as I’ve learned over the past decade, “sad is not bad.” And it’s motivating me to write this short post today, and to make a commitment: to share more of my writing.

I’ve ‘blogged’ on and off for many years, mainly on tech minutiae, and about biological fieldwork. Safe things (for me) to share publicly. But I spend an inordinate (and probably irresponsible) amount of time pondering less ‘safe’ things: the nature of meaning, of Love, of free will, of hope in the face of climate change, the possibility of resistance against the onslaught of commercial technology in our lives, how to start conversations among political enemies, how to (re-)enchant the scientific understanding of the world, the value of epistemological humility, Buddhism vs. Christianity, Borneo vs. Alaska, and more. I write reams in a private journal. I usually don’t get very far in solving, or even addressing, these weighty issues: mainly I ask questions. And I don’t pretend to any particular expertise or insight. But from talking with friends, I guess that some of these reflections might be helpful to other people. For sure, I’ve benefited from reading other people’s ponderings. So perhaps then I might share more of these thoughts publicly? I’m unlikely to ever write a book, but the internet permits us to hang ideas out as free wares, for anyone to see and consume. Of course, there is too much information out there already, too much to read, data overload, et cetera, et cetera. But if one person were to stumble upon this site and find one thing that was useful, then perhaps that would be sufficient reason for me to write. To contribute to the Human Project ones own synthesis of other people’s ideas is one of the things that does seem to offer some meaning in life: the endless mash-up and re-mashup of concepts that perhaps asymptotically approaches ‘truth.’

Or, maybe more honestly, and in light of turning 50, it’s that “writing is the scratching of an insatiable itch for immortality” (Dee Hock). Anyway, here we go! Watch this space. And thank you for your attention.

  print "hello world";