I spend four days a week up in the woods about 90 miles outside of New York City. I’m building a house.
There is a small town nearby, it’s really just a four-corners, and the other day I attended my first town meeting, of any town ever. I was surprised to find their government so earnest, to observe my neighbors practice an atom-sized form of community organization with such devotion. It made me feel that my world view is one-dimensional, that for my entire adult life I’ve focused on Internet enterprise and I use a lens that obscures everyone as a user — and here are many people succeeding with basic democracy and civility, and they’re ignorant to the optimism for technology solving all that I represent.
Related, being up there makes me realize that when I’m in the city I judge myself, and my peers, by my and their abilities to be productive and wealthy. When I’m away, the criteria for what makes me successful is far more complex: What have I done for my spouse, my neighbor, my community? How have I worked to rise the tide, to improve the livelihood for those immediately around me, how can I serve them? — I wonder. I feel good when I prioritize these thoughts.