As the drama surrounding the United States government shutdown escalated last week, I thought back to last year's presidential election. Unrelated to politics, I found myself almost shocked to think that nearly a year had passed since I was at home with my wife watching the debates between President Obama and Governor Romney. As my mind wandered, I was overwhelmed at the rate and magnitude of change over the preceding year.
During this time in 2012, I was fighting internal doubt and frustration while trying to complete my dissertation in time for a December graduation. I was also a mere 28 years of age, so thoughts of life's brevity were still obscured by youthful ignorance. My wife and I had only began to discuss having children, meaning our biggest worry revolved around who was making dinner. Fast forward to today, and everything has changed.
I completed my Ph.D. in December, and have worked since January as a postdoctoral research fellow. I am filled with confidence and excitement because I get to work on really cool problems with really smart people. I turned 29 this past March, so of course I began to think about 30, which were really just thoughts about life writ large. My wife and I learned in June that we were going to have a baby sometime in late February or early March of 2014. Things are definitely much different than in 2012.
All of this led me to today. I've run this website for over two years, with daily postings starting over 21 months ago. I've posted some 920 stories, of which 892 have occurred on 652 consecutive days. The site has been visited by nearly 50,000 people, with over 35% originating from outside the United States. A few reviews and personal stories I did were very popular, with one post reaching over 10,000 page views. I have even been contacted by Facebook to update a tutorial I posted because it was ranked fairly high. All of the above far exceeded my expectations when I began this experiment in late 2011. Needless to say, it has been a very fun experience.
Despite all of the positives, I will no longer publish this website in its current form. There are many reasons for this decision.
Firstly, I haven't enjoyed doing it for several months. Trying to find something to share everyday feels like a burden, and I simply don't care about most of the subject matter. That is why the site has been dominated by linked posts instead of original writing.
Secondly, no one really cares. I started the site because I wanted to share things I found cool in a voice that hopefully resonated with visitors. In reality, the site is nothing more than a version of what many were already doing - that is copying the Daring Fireball format of linked posts with a bit of commentary. The site does not offer anything new, and so it is largely a wasted effort. Stated another way, the site is yet another place that does nothing but add to the vacuum of soulless internet garbage.
This leads to my final reason. There is no clearer motivation than life's nagging reminder of one's mortality. I want to do things in life that matter. I want to do things that will make my friends and family proud. I admire my wife because she had many opportunities to sell-out in medical school by choosing a field that would make her rich. Instead, she chose one of the relatively lower paying fields (pediatrics) because advocating for children was her passion. In the past, she has volunteered at “free” clinics, served on various boards, and worked in Peru for month where she served poor children. Most recently, she has focused on abuse prevention and awareness. I could not be more proud of her. However, the light of her generosity has illuminated the inadequacies of my own life. I am in a fairly rare position for Oklahoma by having an advanced degree and not immediately leaving. I have been afforded a standing in our society that, whether deserved or not, has the potential to open many doors. I want to open doors that positively affect people. This site is not one of those things.
I might write here occasionally when there is something important to say, although those times will likely be infrequent. In the meantime, I will spend my efforts on a few projects that I think are worth my time. I have a mobile application that aims to improve the efficiency of pediatric medical professionals. I also have a few more application ideas that I want to pursue. In addition, I am working on launching a website that will focus on politics - not in the typical hyper-partisan way, but in a way that illustrates how our lives are shaped by our leaders’ decisions. Finally, I want to pursue an idea on improving education in Oklahoma. The idea is to focus on the time between when school lets out and when it starts anew the following day. The idea might broadly be considered a Variety Care for education.
In parting, I want to offer thanks to everyone who has visited and given feedback. I have really enjoyed interacting with people I might not otherwise have met. I especially welcomed when my ideas were challenged and debated. You'll hear from me in the future when I feel I have something meaningful to contribute. Until then, I'll be taking a much needed hiatus - thank you, all.