- I am officially ending new work on OCSPLORA
- The website will stay online for the time being
- Any past contributors who would like copies of their work, please get in touch—happy to help!
- I would love to see past contributions reposted on Medium.com—but that’s just a suggestion and totally up to contributors
- As a parting gift, I’ve made what can only be described as the greatest 2020 retrospective playlist (using music almost exclusively not from 2020) ever created on Spotify for your listening enjoyment—
- For the longer version (there’s always a longer version with me), read below. Otherwise, thank you so much and have a fantastic 2021!
I was very lucky in my high school years and early twenties to both live in a warm climate surrounded by water and to have a couple good friends whose families lived on what we in Florida call a lake.
I’ve since learned Florida lakes would be called ponds if they were located outside of Florida.
The lake was big enough to front 30 or 40 homes and you could easily drive a boat around at full speed. Brian and Phil each had access to a boat and at some point one of them picked up a wake board and they started wakeboarding on their lake.
It was around this time, during our freshman year of high school, I became friends with them. My earliest memories of hanging out with those guys and our other friend, Chris, and eventually another friend from middle school, Frank, were getting rides to Brian’s house after school or on the weekends and going out on the lake in the boat.
If you’ve never been wakeboarding or water skiing, here’s how I remember learning.
They told me to jump in the water (with a life vest on).
They threw me the wake board, which is like a snowboard with rubber bindings you ‘slip’ your feet into.
I bobbed up and down in the water, trying to keep my legs up near the surface, while pulling the straps with my hands and pushing with my legs to wrestle my feet into the bindings.
Once my feet squeaked in, someone threw me the tow rope and I held it close, elbows bent. They told me to keep my knees close to my chest and the board in front of me with the front of the board pointed as close to straight up out of the water as possible, which is all about as comfortable as it sounds.
It took me a lot of tries, with Phil in the water patiently giving me instructions, but eventually I managed to hold the rope tight and keep my body rigid enough for the board to stay in front of and under me, but loose enough for my knees to take the jolts as the board bounced along the water.
When you get it right, your body shoots up out of the water and you lean back, almost like you’re going to fall over, with your knees bent and the board cutting through the water on one edge or the other.
And that was it—I was wakeboarding!
That never lasted long, of course. My rides were usually pretty short. It only took an instant of relaxing the wrong part of the body at the right time, or leaning too far forward, or not getting far enough outside when the boat slowed to make a hard turn, then it was over.
At speed, the board would rip off my feet and my body would crash into and then skip along the water, my arms yanked almost out of their sockets, face plastered with amoeba infested lake water and foam.
One thing I found myself doing that my buddies didn’t do—because they were smarter and there is probably something a little wrong with me—was that I continued holding onto the rope after I fell, for as long as I could.
Imagine being out on a lake somewhere, watching a boat fly past at 30 miles an hour, or however fast we used to go, noticing a rope in the water behind the boat, and then realizing at the end of that rope was a person skipping along the top of the water, arms straight out, head down, just getting themselves pounded by the force of their body hitting the water continuously at that speed.
That was me.
They all thought I was an idiot, rightfully so, but I just couldn’t give up. Even when I was down and the ride was over, I couldn’t let go of that tow rope.
I couldn’t quit.
I knew I could hold on.
I think you probably see where this is going now.
I have felt the same way about OCSPLORA that I felt about that tow rope every time I wiped out. ‘I can’t quit you!’
I probably should have retired it a while ago, but instead I told myself I would let it hibernate until I had more time for it.
At the end of 2017, I started doing the podcast.
In 2019, I restarted this email newsletter.
This past year I took steps to bring it back to full life by changing web providers and renovating the website.
And this year, 2021, I was going to dedicate to setting up an online OCSPLORA community.
In fact, it is for that last part, setting up an online community, I reached out to a guy named John Saddington who I’ve been following online for years who has become an online community evangelist and guru of sorts.
He sent an email to his subscribers looking for people who needed help beginning an online community, so I replied with a long email about OCSPLORA (I have a long email problem) and he actually replied with a link to a six minute video he made for me, which was surprising.
In the video he highlighted something I had written about my commitment to OCSPLORA. I said I had been doing this for 10+ years so I’m not about to quit now. And he asked that one question that gets underneath and inside of every belief and defense we have for our choices.
'Why aren’t you going to quit?'
That caught me totally off guard. I thought because he’s all about being an entrepreneur and starting businesses and making money from them that he’d be like, why aren’t you trying to make money off this thing you’ve created?
I never expected anyone to ask why are you even still doing this. Although, I should have because a couple of close friends have asked me that over the years at different points and in different ways.
So I thought about it for a couple weeks.
But you know how someone says something simple to you, like, ‘Have you thought about just doing this?’ or asks one of those hateful why questions, ‘Why exactly do you feel you need to do that?’ and because it’s so simple, it slips under all your defenses and preformulated answers and without really needing to think about it, you already know they’ve hit on something deeper than all the things you thought you needed to be thinking about?
Ever experience that?
That’s how this was. I knew almost right away that I needed to let go of OCSPLORA, even though it took my brain a couple weeks to catch up.
It is a little sad, like letting go of a family pet that I’ve taken care of and loved for years and years, but some things have happened lately that have put it in perspective (2020 anybody?), so I’m really not all that sad.
But I did love the ride, and I’ve really loved communicating with all of you and working with a lot of you over this time, on this crazy project that I have felt so passionately about and which has withstood so many bad ideas.
'Time to let it go
It won’t let go of me
Hanging by a thread
Cutting the cord and then falling back
Into the black ‘cause if I don’t
If I wait ’til it feels right
I’ll be waiting my whole life
Closing my eyes, remember how we were like
Gold, when you see me
Hi, if you need me
Babe, that’s the way it was
That’s the history
Blue, how we used to roar
Like an open fire
That’s the way it was
But that’s history'
—Vance Joy, 'Like Gold'
That's probably a little melodramatic of a song to quote here, but I like it. I think it fits.
Anyway, what I will forever take away from this whole thing, more than anything else—and I hope you do too—are the three words which have become the backbone of not only this enterprise I’m wrapping up, but also what I think a meaningful life looks like:
Adventure, Creativity, and Generosity.
In other words—
be bold, go places, do things that scare you,
make stuff, synthesize parts, use your imagination,
give and share what you do when there’s nothing in it for you.
How far wrong can you go if you live like that?
Catch ya later!
Photo by jztna