I’ve had this post rolling around in my head for some months now, but until a couple of weeks ago didn’t really know how to frame it up. The gist of it is this: it’s been a really complex, dynamic, shifting, difficult, but in many ways gratifying year. (Since about January, give or take but probably a month or two before that.)
But a friend the other day told me he’s feeling like his life lately is a collection of shards — lots of different, distinct activities — so many that they’re all-consuming — but because they’re so different, they don’t quite add up to a whole like he’s used to things. (He’s an extraordinarily high performing & functioning guy, so even in this “sharded” state, he’s getting a humbling amount of important work done.)
That captures how I feel about my year in a lot of ways. The start of things was right around Christmas last year when Mom had some serious health issues (she’s fine now; doing fantastically well). The year has been complicated with work, of course, as I transition out of Mozilla and to Greylock. Dislocating my shoulder and the subsequent surgery and (ongoing rehab) changed the whole complexion of the year for me — it’s hard to explain how significant it’s been. And my grandmother died in August, having lived a full life and going out on her own terms, but nevertheless, a major transition.
Add to that watching and helping and learning as SPL turned 5 and continues to grow into being his own person. And the day-to-day successes and failures in the role of husband and father — on the whole doing very positively, but living an imperfect life, as we all do.
So when my friend talked about his “collection of shards” for the year, I really understood what he meant. On the whole, I’m feeling as happy now as I’ve felt in some time, and am feeling great about the coming months and years. But I’d like a little more coherence and resonance across activities than I’ve had this year.
When I talk with friends, I find that others have felt a bit like this in 2010 and 2009 — so many of them that it seems to me that the context of the state of the world and our country must be playing some part.
But here’s the really good news, at least for me: I’ve felt this way before. And, in fact, I find that I tend to have periods of stability that last many years, with periodic shardings. 1995 was a year like that for me: leaving Stanford, starting Trilogy, parents divorcing, grandfather dying, reconnecting with Kathy, moving to Austin — lots of motion, many shards. So was 2005: Sam was born, joined Mozilla, left the company I started. And in every case (those plus some others), what was happening in retrospect was that I was rearranging the furniture of my life, reconfiguring things for something new, and the steep learning curves associated with the sharded year over time yielded to a better understanding of myself and my family and my work, and a new sense of where I fit and how to be who I wanted to be.
I’m not sure this will sound super coherent to anyone but me, but wanted to capture how I’m feeling, and why even with so much in motion (and I’m adding a few new shards as we speak), I’m feeling very comfortable and happy about today, and tomorrow, and the days after that.