Time and Traveling

Less than a month ago, I ended a four year tenure at Chartbeat. At the same time I got out of my lease, put my things into storage, and packed a 30-liter backpack. A week after my going away drinks I hopped on a one-way flight to Cartegena, Colombia with only 3 days planned and rough idea that I would head south.

For my first couple weeks I bummed around the north coast of Colombia. I slept on a hammock on the beach of Parque Tyrona, raved until 5am at a hostel nestled in the jungle, and got lost and soaked by rain while hiking in the cool mountains of Minca.

Now I find myself in beautiful Medellín, Collombia. And, two weeks in, my mind is transitioning from a vacation mode to daily routine. With that, I’ve started to think about how I should be spending my time.

Living in New York came with every day seeming too short. I crammed my waking hours with work, friends, dates, books, and classes. Now, my time is my own. If I want to spend a little more time some place, I can. I don’t have to do anything or be anywhere. There’s no one to judge how I spend my time but myself.

Due to a cold, I decided to take it easy my first few days in Medellín. I spread-sheeted my expenditures, caught up on email, and then stumbled onto a list of old unmaintained side-projects. Without the guilt of feeling that there was something else I should be doing, I picked one and got it working again, cowsay.me.

The service was originally run as a single tweet-sized one-liner on a dedicated server. But, since giving up on dedicated machines, the domain has just pointed to nothing. So, I ported the concept to a much less elegant python flask service, deployed it to heroku for free, updated the DNS, and called it a day.

Why did I do that? I’m in one of the most lush and beautiful cities in the world, but hacking away at a cow that spews out occasionally offensive nonsense?

Later that night, I grabbed drinks with a friend I’d made a week prior in a different city. We talked about self-definition and I expressed my frustration that, even far from the city the burned me out, I find myself unable to let go of my hold habits and needing to hack.

She said,

“You’re still early in this trip, so I think this is your Ghost of Christmas Past phase. You’re focused on the person you were and questioning if that’s still you. Later, you’ll probably have a Ghost of Chirstmas Present phase and start comparing your life on the road to your life back home. Then, even later than that, hopefully, you’ll meet a Ghost of Christmast Future. And they’ll show you that no ones going to come to your funeral if you can’t stop coding and chill the fuck out for a minute.”

There was a lot of beer and tequila. I might be paraphrasing. But it got me thinking for sure.