Wednesday, January 13, 2016
If you go looking for me in the San Francisco Bay Area you won’t find me. At least not until March. I left the Bay for a long but temporary vacation to the woods of the northernmost part of California, in the Smith River area. Each morning I look out my window to the sight of tree covered hills haunted with ghosts made of fog. The world is cold, wet, and green.
My girlfriend and cat are with me. When there is a break in the rain, my girlfriend and I are discovering the joy of local activities such as foraging for wild mushrooms, mostly yellowfoot chanterelles.
I told a friend in San Francisco about this trip and she said it reminded her of Walden. I guess it is like Walden, if Walden had wifi, electricity, and a cat. But relative to San Francisco it is Walden. We even have a little pond in the front yard.
The point of this trip was to get some perspective on our hectic Silicon Valley lives. That place thrives on discontent. The millionaires want to be billionaires - and the billionaires want to fly to Mars.
That discontent drives plenty of invention. New founders dream of ways to make things better than they are. But it’s also the source of a lot of psychological and physical sickness.
I can’t say I’m rebelling against those values. Rather, I took them to heart too well. I’m discontent with the Silicon Valley way of life. I’d like to find something better.
I want to hear my own thoughts again. It's hard to know what I want when so many other people around me have strong ideas about what I should want. I want to challenge the feeling that I have that nothing I do is enough unless I'm giving every waking moment to some moonshot project.
Every place has its own set of values that it teaches. Rural areas teach a way of life that’s slow and easy. The cortisol drains from the system and the attention span starts to grow. I need that.
So I’m going to let my brain marinate in the forest life for awhile - filled with friendly neighbors, green smells, and wild mushrooms.