Even before I knew how to name it (or identify it) one of the core principles of my life was always to follow my energy. I used to say that I was a jack of all trades, or that I had a lot of hobbies, or, in wry moments, with countless projects in-progress around the house, call it “Project ADD”.
Fifteen years ago– before all of the houses and power tools– I used to take art classes, religiously. Metal casting, stained glass, painting, pottery, photography. I don’t have a passion for a specific art medium, just a desire to know how things are done, and then, when I can picture something in my head, to bring it into existence. I often don’t care what it is, or what’s involved in bringing it to life, I just get an overwhelming urge–once I can see it–to make it real.
And, truthfully, every construction project I’ve taken on, that house I built while I lived in a garage, and almost everything I’ve done on the farm is just a bigger and more complicated extension of that. Of picturing something in my head, and then bringing it into existence. Building it, planting it, tearing things down and/or cleaning them up. (Okay, fine, very very rarely cleaning things up, but you get what I’m saying.)
Everything I’ve written on this website has also been an extension of it. Once I’ve broken something down, dived into the details, and understand it from top to bottom there’s nothing I love more than to tell a story about it. To share it with everyone else. And while I know this is not the case, part of me likes to assume everyone out there is just like me and wants to know all the ins and outs of how things work, and how to take it all apart and put it back together themselves.
The internet, and the early days of blogging, provided such an amazing platform for those things, partly because nobody was doing it. There wasn’t good information out there written by, well, nerds like me. People who were just learning themselves, but passionate enough to want to dive right in, learn everything they could, and share it with everyone.
There are sixteen whole years of my life documented on this website. Even if you look back at the online world ten years ago, there wasn’t great “how to” information on the internet when it came to houses and DIY, and so everything I wrote here felt good, and useful and energizing.
A few years back I stopped writing how-to articles, mostly because all of the sudden you could find how-to’s on almost anything online (and I’m not mad about it… do you know how many parts I’ve been able to change out of my piece-of-shit ’95 farm truck because some guy made a shaky phone-cam tutorial and posted it to YouTube? ALL OF THEM. I am so grateful.)
Even after I realized the wave of useful how-to’s had caught up with me, I told stories all of the time. I believed so strongly, and still do, in the power of an authentic story. I recently went back and re-read all of the archives of this website–which, as far as existential crises go, I do not recommend re-reading 16 years of your life in one sitting– but I will say that I fucking love everything I ever wrote in 2013 (and not one of those things was a how-to). I love a lot of other things I wrote, but if there was a year between 2004 and now that I was on point with my storytelling (or maybe just genuinely delighted with my life?), that would be the one.
Recently though– and this will come as no surprise to anyone who has been checking this site, wondering what I’m up to– not so much. Which is weird because I’ve actually been writing a fair amount. Writing. Re-writing. Thinking a lot about the things I’ve written, and then never hitting the publish button.
I spent at least three weeks on this one, and I kind of love the story, but also kind of hate investing more time into a story I can’t seem to tell correctly…
Don’t even talk to me about my Drafts folder right now.
I know everyone wants to hear about the Tiny Angry Badgers. (Spoiler alert: They’re feral cats and resulted in six of the worst weeks of my life, and currently 2 of the best (since Bubs died.) I’ve had three complete emotional breakdowns over them. It has been a roller coaster.)
Here’s the thing… the fundamental parts of me that I’ve shared on this website for years have not changed. I love a challenge (I mean, people used to give me shit for drinking and using power tools, and now my hobbies have escalated into climbing mountains… alone. And even that doesn’t seem challenging enough. So.)
I love tackling projects on my own.. and increasingly feel like a crotchety old man when talking to the youths about how to do so, which I also love. (Let’s be honest, deep down I have always been a crotchety old man inside.)
I still occasionally have wicked building streaks (like all of the spring of 2019) where I have so much fun and so much energy I just can help but want to share it with the world.
I also have stories, like we all do. Stories about how I was bummed my peach trees only produced one whole peach this year (and yet how fucking delicious that one peach was… how much more I appreciated it than the years where those trees gave me ten pounds of fruit.)
Stories about how cool it is that my mom lives on a lake, just a half-mile down the road from me (how much that has increased my quality of life in general, and how good my gardens look because of it), and stories about how hard it is that my mom lives on a lake, just a half-mile down the road from me (because I’m basically a crotchety old man inside… one who doesn’t have a lot of patience sometimes, or a lot of experience navigating shared responsibilities with my mom.)
I have stories about how some of the grapevines have finally established, and stories about how (after all of that work and joy) I harvested a bowl full of grapes and then let them all go to waste in my fridge because I was too busy with work to do anything with them…
I have stories about how I feel I’m not doing right by the farm, because I spend a few of my after-hours hours at the gym instead of at home. Stories about how, at this stage in life, a career can override a lot of your passions (because let’s be honest, unless you’re very, very lucky, a career will pay for far more of your mortgage than passions.) But also stories about how my passions have been the catalyst for some of the best, strongest connections I’ve made with amazing people in my adult life, and how I struggle to make time for them. (Both the passions and the amazing people.)
I have stories about the internet which, through this website, was once one of the best and most energizing parts of me.. and now has now become one of the worst distractors from the things I love to do. I have stories about how building a non-traditional life by myself–without compromise–has been one of the best decisions of my life. And I have stories about how I’ve failed. How, because I love the life I’ve built so much, I haven’t taken chances. Stories about how living that non-traditional life has both provided unique opportunities for connecting with people, and also prevented me for connecting with people in the way people who live more traditional lives do.
I spend a lot of time every day looking for the kind of stories that used to inspire me, that I used to feel a connection with, that made me think, “hell yeah, that’s not perfect, but it’s awesome, and it makes me want to do the same.” And I don’t find them. I find a lot of people trying to be “influencers” (I have never hated a word more in my life), a lot of people who have genuine stories to tell who are more worried about the searchability of their blog posts, or the clickbait in their titles.
I mean, seriously? Screw a world in which we cannot say a true thing in a true way because if we tell an authentic story in an authentic way A SEARCH ENGINE MAY NOT FIND IT AND DISTRIBUTE IT TO THE MASSES.
I am, in general, uninspired. (And, if we’re being honest, also jealous of the kids who have found their niche building things and doing what they love on Instagram. I appreciate them, their creativity, their free spirits… but not as much as I’ve appreciated health insurance and a 401k in the past which makes me? Old and lame? Probably.)
I realize this sounds like the the end of this website. And maybe it is? Except I clearly have a lot of stories I’d still like to tell. Things I would still like to share about the farm, and my projects (when I have the time for them.) It’s just that there was time where sharing them on this website made more sense in the world, and in my life, than it does now. And, honestly, I haven’t sorted it out. I don’t even have time to sort it out. I just have time to write half-finished blog posts… to think half-finished thoughts about my current life, but not to share them. (Except this one, which I promised myself I wouldn’t sleep until I published.)
And maybe, maybe telling the truth about all of this will unlock the part of me that just can’t figure out how the hell to tell a good story right now. To share in this new world of sharing. Sometimes just saying “I don’t know” gives you permission to just speak about what you do know, or what you’re questioning, or what you think you know but will probably realize you’re wrong about later, and maybe that’s all I’m asking for.
But in any case… if it takes me a week, or a month, or a year, or ten years to tell my next good story, this sure has been an amazing ride. Not just the sharing in general, but sharing it with all of you. Thank you for being a part of my story.
Edit/Update: So I hit publish on this post some time after midnight, woke up this morning and headed into day 14 of a work crisis, and honestly didn’t give it another thought until I came up for air an hour ago. And then I read all of your comments. (Is it dusty in here? Because my eyes are watering. Maybe I’m allergic to these tiny, angry badgers…) Anyway. I’m going to respond to every comment but also wanted to make a general statement, which (if I haven’t said it enough) is basically thank you. Again. Sometimes all of these feels like shouting into a void, and then every once in a while you get a moment of clarity. Like, holy shit, the void has people in it! Awesome ones!
Seriously, every comment has been meaningful, and it has all given me a lot of food for thought.
I don’t know what shape my life is going to take in the next 6-12 months, or what part storytelling will play in it, but I don’t plan to take this site down (so all my old stories will stay up.)
I can’t imagine this is the last thing I’ll ever post here, but it might be the last for a little while. Thank you for letting me know that when I’m ready to tell good stories again, you’ll be here to read them. It means the world.