January 25, 2006


Sometimes the hardest part of overcoming inertia is, well, overcoming it. Ever notice how the first three miles of a run is always the hardest? After that you feel like you could coast, coast, coast… coast and run forever. That is, until you get down to the last quarter mile, at which point every second drags on for eternity. As in running, as in life.

I realize that I haven’t spent enough time writing of recent. I need to write. It feeds me. If a day comes to a close and I haven’t written anything, I feel like I have squandered my time. It doesn’t matter what I spent my waking hours doing. It could have been the most productive day on record, I could have relocated the state of Massachusetts to a suburb of Los Angeles, and still if words weren’t penned I feel awful.

The problem is there are far too many things besides writing that must be done on this great wide earth. There are bands to see and caves to explore and trails to hike and mountains to ski and books to read. There are friends, old and new, who are dispersed across the land enjoying their own adventures. The moments when we rejoin are far too few, but when we do track down one another we always enjoy epic nights of tomfoolery, filled with too much wine and wildly improbable stories and games of Oregon Trail and hootenannies that wake up the neighbors. Every time we trek across the country we leave so much behind, but always we find so much that is new and exciting.

There are a million things I want to do right now, all of which seem to be diametrically opposed to one another. I want to stay right where I am and move far, far away. I want to live in the middle of a bright city and scramble through the thickets of the universe. I want to sleep under the northern lights and rock out under palm trees. I want to snuggle in the warm embrace of technology and jam a knife deep into its ribs. I want home and I want the open road. I want to own a house and live out of my Subaru.

One thing I do not want is to buy the world a friggin’ Coke.

I keep trying to convince myself that there’s an underlying logic to all this, that somehow all these things are related in a unified theory of the soul. Honestly, there must be a thread of commonality between saunas, design, green tea, video games, stick shifts, garden gnomes, backpacking, indie rock, kiteboarding and pirates.

There must, as for years I have tried to reconcile these passions. With music I tried to throw everything I had in a single direction, but all it took was a new infatuation with snowboarding to break that spell. Perhaps balance is more desirable than reconciliation, as I may be incorrectly framing the dilemma by assuming that there is something that needs to be reconciled in the first place.

The problem is that there are so many things I want to do, and so much stuff I want to learn, that I always fear I have barely more than a passing grasp of any one subject. Whenever I compare myself to others in a particular area of inquiry, I always compare myself against the best of breed — the best rock climbers, the best musicians, the best web designers — and always walk away feeling bummed about my own abilities. I’m never satisfied with being “good enough”, but I am never interested enough in one particular subject to invest the time to get really fucking good at it.

Sure, I’ve done some mountaineering and I climbed Mount Adams with a friend, but there’s a kid out there who is five years younger than I am and has climbed the Seven Summits. I’m pretty good at web design and even wrote the design process for an entire web shop, but none of my designs are being used by millions of people right now, nor have I built a statistics package that is taking the world by storm.

I guess I’m a hack. A hack at just about anything, and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. History shows that many hacks who had a wide array of interests have gone on to do great things, invent countries for example.

So let’s hear it for hacks, and let’s see what it will take to send this one to Patagonia next year. If we’re lucky, he’ll even write about it for us. If he values his life he will, too.

I don’t think you’re a hack. Shit. I’m a hack. I now consider myself a programmer, a saxophonist, a composer, and an inventor. I think the only thing I actually am is a programmer. I’m a novice musician. I hack on chords with the sax and the guitar. I write music most every week, but I’ve only lost money at that. shit. I even have a degree in that and the more I learn about it the more I feel like a hack or a novice. I draw inventions and scheme ideas, but there is no venture capitalist that is going to fund my crazy ideas. I think change and public transportation and people just laugh at me.
Dane. You are a phenomenal saxophonist, and a very intriguing and thoughtful writer. We both are never going to be the best guru at whatever and in the end I’m sure we will never want to be, but dammit we will look on everything in the world with our own shade of glasses and think, “shit, no one sees it like me”