About six weeks ago, I was feeling buried in hatred. The bile and ugliness that has become a substitute for discourse in today’s world was too much. I went over to my Twitter account and deleted almost 30,000 tweets — 10 years of thoughts, connections, replies and occasionally a joke that didn’t land.
Something miraculous happened: nothing. Nobody said anything. Nobody unfollowed my now-empty account. I was hurt for about 12 seconds, and then I remembered that the reason I left the service in the first place was the community I’d built was gone. The followers were still there. The friends I’d made were still my friends. But Twitter was only serving as a shouting board; there didn’t seem to be any more listening.
So I made it a shouting board. If you want a good place to get a feed of all my content, go on over and follow me @JoshShear. No, I won’t respond to replies. You’ve been warned.
I got to thinking about the legacy I want to leave the world. Legacy is one of my personal pivotal needs — one of the driving forces behind what I do when I’m being true to myself.
I want to leave the world a better place for the next generation. In no small part, that means a world that has more love than hate, more kindness than apathy, more happiness than anger, more wealth than poverty.
If that’s important to me, everything I do should work in that general direction.
Nobody makes it on their own. I picked up some books. I talked to some people. I let the wheels turn. I thought about where I’d been.
Someone said something which seemed obvious. I’m paraphrasing: If it’s not relevant to your aim, don’t do it.
I thought about all the times I said publicly, typically in this space, I said I was starting over, I was focused, I was moving forward with unity of vision.
And then I looked over my shoulder.
Burn it down
I thought about John Baldessari, the artist who cremated his old work, then looked in the camera and repeated, “No more bad art” until he was sure he was ready to produce good art.
I poured myself a cup of coffee and started.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone through 12 years of blogging in this space and deleted every post that didn’t either meet my purpose of leaving a better world or my current standard of writing, with these exceptions: Guest posts stayed intact, as did all the podcast episodes.
Posts that met my standards got some edits and some attached images.
In all, I’d say a dozen posts needed nothing. 667 posts went in the trash. Another 220 got updates. I hope, if you’re relatively new here, you’ll feel confident going back through the archives of JoshShear.com and knowing that it’s all useful, high-quality content. No publishing just to publish. No posts that didn’t require thought, sweat and sometimes tears. They’re not all long, but they’re impactful.
I had a dream last night. Not for the sake of this narrative; I actually had this dream. I know it wasn’t for the sake of this narrative because it started with me bumping into Ben Greenfield in a coffee shop. Apparently we knew each other.
This was very strange because I’m familiar with Greenfield through two episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast (1069 – 1120) but he’s not someone I think about as anything other than a self-experimenting journalist (Rogan, on the other hand, is someone I probably write too frequently about — he’s designed a life for himself that includes doing what he loves, paring back when he wants to spend time with his family, and that combination of curiosity and fame that makes him want to talk to all different kinds of people and the ability to get them into his podcast studio).
I told Greenfield I’d be down the road in the woods having a roundtable if he wanted to join us after his meeting, in the usual spot.
It was muddy but not soaked, and Greenfield joined the group just as I was getting up to find a good spot for a restroom. For some reason, I knew this area of the woods — it didn’t look familiar to me, but my dream self was very aware of the place. I went to cross a couple of boards over a creek and found, to my surprise, that the creek bed had dried up and there was a more permanent structure built over the bed.
When I came back, Rogan was hosting about a dozen and a half people in a conversation, all with headphones, sitting on stumps around the clearing.
It was a sure sign I’m working toward having something to offer my heroes.
Where are you going? Where have you been? What are you doing that is getting in the way of where you want to be? What have you done that is holding you back? What do you need to destroy in order that you may rebuild what you want?
Go get it.