Ashok Varadhan had this line that's always stuck with me: "You can't be so afraid of your own shadow that you never step out into the sun." Yet, in the context of the Goldman strategy session where they were uttered, those words instantly belied the strange contradiction lying underneath. How was it even possible to step into "the sun" after being inculcated into 15 years of the opposite: that individual expression is subordinate to the values of "The Firm"? No wonder those brave finance souls making the leap into the creative expanse struggle: it's hard to break free as an appendage to a zero sum machine. You need to light a fire within to grow from the fires without.
2020 was the year that I realized that "limitless potential" is not just fluff, but an accurate description of what's waiting for us out there. It just requires a mentality shift. Are group gatherings just giant Excel sheets in need of filtering, with individuals as YouTube clips to be fast forwarded? Or are they opportunities to hit a deeper plane, like bundles of energy connecting as covalent bonds? Kooky, perhaps, but I'm always amazed at how far a little perspective shift can take you. It's like snowboarding, you go where your gaze travels, even if you can't explain how you got there.
There has never been a better time to question everything. Multiply newfound perspectives with a dose of Internet scale and crazy things can happen.
In 2021, I am intent on exploring how online communities can unlock the radiance of our collective stories, shining brightly for a group of like-minded individuals to bask in. What if our foundational value system were premised on the notion that we all have something to learn from each other, not as means to some end, but as ends in and of themselves? What if our numeraire of value were not dollars or bitcoin, but the potential energy of the "living world" itself? Could we transact in atomic units of gratitude—transferable, but not tradeable—transcending individual notions of value accumulation to emphasize the essential interconnectedness and shared purpose of our interactions?
I think it starts with getting to know each other. Then layering on a shared journey of discovery:
- Listening to the craziest stories I've ever heard from Jaeson Ma
- Reading an essay a day and sharing takeaways
- Philosophizing on life musings from Shantaram to kick off our bookclub
- Flailing at community improv sessions with other noobs in High Fidelity
- Dancing to meemtic energy with live DJs in Discord
- Competing in gaming tourneys like MTG Arena, Zombs Royale, Poker and others
- Transcending through deep sound meditations from Terra Naomi
- Experiencing the wild auctions of community art challenges
What comes next? Judging from how quickly my perspective shifted from Day 0 to Day 30, the only thing I know for sure is that I have no idea. But we have the benefit of time. If what we're building is a 20y journey, it's the friends we make along the way that will ultimately matter. And who knows — if we end up entirely rewriting the definition of “value” along the way, then all the merrier.
Here's to 2021 and beyond. Join us. :)