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The End of Another Beginning
Back to our roots
Today, we leave sunny Marbella, Spain for Sevenoaks, UK. It was a rewarding seven months. Now, some parting thoughts on a brief but important chapter.
I wrote in Never a Better Time:
I've found quarantine to be emblematic of how we live life, a constant shuffle between "half open and half closed", "there and not there", and ultimately less "alive" than "not dead". The middle ground sure seems like a road to nowhere, and so I try to emulate Taleb's "barbell" approach: if you pack your clothes for a trip to the desert guided by the average temperature, you'll be perfectly dressed for nothing.
We moved in August 2020 to balance the "yin" of quarantine life in New York with the heat/light of Spanish "yang". Surrounded by constant fear and uncertainty, at a certain point you inevitably let go of the things you can't control. Blocks become malleable, boundaries become transparent, and out of that release comes repose, reflection and the energy, space and time to take that next step. And so we did.
Fond memories will linger. Waking up to sunrise yoga, immersing myself in four hours of creative work over a cafe con leche and tostada catalana, uninterrupted by a single meeting, settling into a relaxed tapas lunch with family overlooking the endless expanse of the ocean ... the routine actually made me look forward to the 6-8 hours of back to back Zooms that were to follow.
Between New York and Spain, I don't think I've had a more productive year in my last 35. Because in a remote world, you are what you output. Ideas are cheap: unconverted into motion, they are entropy, a spiritual heat death. Thankfully, it's never been easier to learn in public, to experiment by doing, and to unite with shared values and interests to form powerful collectives at global scale.
Yet, it's precisely because so many have come to this conclusion that, all together and at once, we feel more overwhelmed than ever. There are hundreds of personally relevant, interesting and consequential movements happening at any point in time. In a world where it's never been easier to create something out of nothing, the cost of missing that prescient tip or tweet has never been higher. Seeing a fortuitous tweet in the middle of the workday led me down a path of rescuing 30 Mooncats from the ether over a 30 minute period, and the haul swiftly rose to 45 ETH, only to collapse to around 5 ETH now. Against gas costs of around 2 ETH in total, it was a profitable endeavor, but when considering the emotional and time baggage of it all, I'm left wondering whether even that most fortuitous of discoveries was worth it?
Dealing with the aftermath of the things we knew but just didn't pull the trigger on, or the things we pulled the trigger on but sold too early, or the things we didn't sell which later crashed ... Realistically, it's either a full time endeavor or one we don't participate in at all, and yet most of us are caught in between. And it's that disconnect between perception and reality, where we are and where we want to be, that slowly eats away at us over time.
So much has changed over the last six months: so much wealth created, so many business models unlocked, so many assumptions about identity, meaning and value broken, that I find myself yearning once again for the things that have stood the test of time. Having optimized for the blank canvas, now feels like the right time to settle back into the structure, hierarchy and class that only an environment like the UK can afford.
My son Charlie made it into Sevenoaks School, and I'm excited for him to have the opportunities that a formal Oxbridge feeder path will unlock. But part of me is torn, because the alternative would have been to hop from one foreign land to another, knowing that the only path forward is to adapt and assimilate. He spent the last year in Spanish public school, and went from not understanding a single Spanish word to having a thick Andalusian accent and trilling those Rs in a way his old dad could only dream of. My plan had been to repeat the playbook in France, Italy and Germany, supplementing those journeys with a self-study track in programming, design and writing. For now, that will be a path not taken, and it's all swell. It will be great to see Charlie settle into a community with deep traditions, and develop long-lasting friendships over the next few years. After a period of constant uprooting, it's time to lay our roots; pedals scattered, time for blossoms to sprout.
And so, as one chapter concludes, another one begins. I have grown to cherish the shifting tides. When you realize how high the opportunity cost of time is, you make the most of what you have, and what you have is what you make of it.