We’re planning to pack up and move this summer and it’s giving me flashbacks.
In 2015, after spending two years in Teach for America, I had a bit of quarter life crisis. I sold most of my possessions - my car, furniture, everything. I bought a one way ticket to Peru and spent six months backpacking through South America. That’s a whole other story, though.
I met some real characters out there. A few called themselves “digital nomads”, folks who work from anywhere in the world and travel perpetually. This idea stuck with me. Eventually, I became disenchanted with the constant travel, the food-borne illness and the deep loneliness of being so far from home.
At a cafe in Peru I began learning how to program professionally. I started dreaming of a new career. I enrolled in a remote code school and I headed home to live with my parents. I basically started my adult life over again from scratch.
Looking back, that time was an important reset. A shakedown of sorts. It’s shaped me into the man I am today. If I didn’t do it then, I’d be dreaming of it now.
Now it’s 2021. The last year has been heartbreaking. A pandemic has taken almost half a million lives in the US, wreaked havoc on the economy and shrunk our social bubbles. Our democracy is crumbling. White supremacists are more emboldened and billionaires are becoming richer every day. All the while, our world is tumbling towards the worst-case scenario of climate change. It’s a full-blown, world-wide crisis on multiple levels.
You surely know all this. You’re living in it too. Collectively, there’s no going back to the before times. So what does the future look like? I won’t say I have hope. I can’t live on the wispy, cotton candy sweetness of hope; but I do have plans.
The Plan! (right now)
Our lease is up in July and we’re not renewing it. Now that Sarah and I both have fully remote jobs, we’re heading East for the second half of 2021. We’ll stay with family for a month or so at a time in New York, New Hampshire and Maine.
While in New York, I’ll be able to work on larger projects on the cabin, set up some polyculture projects and work on the land. If I can make the cabin livable this year, it opens up so much potential.
We’re excited to see the people and places we’ve missed most in this past year. We skipped Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Don’t worry friends, we’re not done with Colorado either! I’ve already learned the importance of having roots in a community and I’m not giving that up. We’ll be back.
My larger plans for the next five years take some this global undoing into account. This plan is one piece of that puzzle. I don’t say all this in a doom-and-gloom-prepper kinda way. That’s exhausting. It’s more like a sober accounting of reality and some dreams of how it all could be.
Right now, my dream future looks like remote work, rooted in a community of friends in Colorado and New York. We can split time in both places now that we don’t have to go into an office.
As the world as we knew it continues to unwind, I’ll have this little place with good food, meaningful work, a library of books, vinyl records and clean water. And you are, of course, invited.
What I’m Reading
If you couldn’t tell already, most of my work on this project is planning right now. I’ll have some more exciting updates next month and more work to show once I am able to get out to New York. In the meantime, I’m reading a lot. Here’s what’s on my shelf.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
This beautiful set of essays weaves together scientific thinking and Kimmerer’s indigenous wisdom. I was most struck by the stories of Onondaga Lake, which I grew up hearing about as a polluted waste land. I learned it was also the place where the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was born, the first representative democracy in the West.
The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
Translated from Japanese, this manifesto on sustainable farming offers a compelling framework for listening and observing nature while growing food. Preaching the good word of never plowing, not fertilizing, not weeding and never spraying chemicals, this book is refreshingly wise.
Side note: A quote from this book “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings” is featured in one of my favorite albums The Myth of The Golden Ratio by United Vibrations. It’s tucked into Far Far Away III. If you want to give it a listen, try the whole album in order.
The Future of Remote Work by Peter Levels
This blog post is an outline of how and why the greatest shift since the industrial revolution is before us. It goes into the history of remote work and how wide adoption of remote work will change everything. Basically, the “future” of work is here now. It does not discuss the effects of tourism as colonialism though, a nuance I saw first hand and was a part of in my travels.