One of my first major pieces on this site, published in February of 2012, compares and contrasts the trend of minimalism with what I was calling “active ownership”:
Active ownership, which differs from minimalism, is about investing your limited attention, money, space, and time to what you value so that those things will thrive. Being vested in something makes you care more about it. You can’t do or have everything, so when you choose to take active ownership, it becomes a commitment to it and decisions and compromises have to be made about what commands your limited attention. As a result of the explicit choice you make in how you spend your attention, you reduce the things around you to what’s most valuable. What’s not valuable gets cut from your attention budget.
When I wrote this, and for several years after, I was incredibly invested and active in Hack/Make. I was writing, editing, and building a community of friends around the work I was doing here. I practiced the process of writing, editing, and publishing while discovering a voice online. I made decisions and personal sacrifices so I could focus on writing for this site. It’s been a place for me to explore ideas, code, and a systematic thought process in a time when I was setting the building blocks in my adult life. I’m a much better of a person because I actively invested myself in that work.
But for more than a year, I’ve been struggling to stay passionate about Hack/Make.
When I look back through the archives, though I’m happy with the body of work as a whole, there isn’t a lot of individual pieces that I’m terribly proud of. Some of that is because I’ve matured as a writer and my old stuff reads as weak. But I also think it’s because I’ve matured as a person and the way I think about the topics I wrote about here has evolved. Many of these topics—task lists, scripting, tools—were the problems I found myself interested in at the time. Most no longer hold my interest since I’ve either figured out something that works for me or recognize the problem as unsolvable. By trying different productivity tools and systems, I’ve learned that less is more and that I enjoy life more when focusing on other things.
I’ve spent the last couple of years making friends, traveling, and falling in love. I see the beauty and hardship, the complexity and the honesty of the human world in these people and places. When I remember to stay in any given moment, I forget about being “productive”. I now embrace getting out from in front of the computer. I look forward to getting away from the safe feeling of methodologies and the comfort of routine: they served their purpose at the time, but often being comfortable for too long means you’re not growing. Ditching the constraints of all these systems means I get to explore the intricacies of being truly human.
To keep the site alive I’ve tried drafting posts about how the blog will evolve in nature as my interests have changed. I’ve tried updating the tagline of the site to set the course for a new vision that excited me and I’ve spent countless hours brainstorming ways to rename the site so I wasn’t disgusted by the word “hack”—which I’ve come to loath—every time I sit down to write. Through all this, I realized I’m just not excited about Hack/Make any more.
Passions change, focus shifts, and, sometimes, what once brought you joy no longer does. I was no longer taking active ownership in the site nor consistently reinvesting myself in it.
I closed that article, four years ago with this:
This process of actively owning, continuously editing what you do, and explicitly choosing what’s around you results in a deeper passion for those things and is worth investing in.
It’s time for me to make some edits. I’ve written about focus and attention and I need to spend mine elsewhere. I want to reset my writing practice and take time to collect ideas, write drafts, and hone the craft. I need to bring joy and humanity back into my writing and rediscover my passion for it.
Though it would be easiest to take it offline, but I’m going to keep Hack/Make live. It’s still a good reference for myself and, hopefully, for others who want to learn about productivity methods. If you find this study to be bringing you energy, enjoyment, or help provide you some feeling of flow in your life, I encourage you to continue. It’s not that I think this practice is a waste, it’s just not what I need to focus on.
Writing will always have a place in my life, whether or not I’m posting to a blog. I’m learning that, often, the payoff is the writing. It’s in the writer’s cramp and in filling notebooks. In thinking through problems and developing your opinion. In evolving your outlook and seeing life in fresh new ways.
I’m still drafting my next chapter but found in life’s little moments is more than enough material.