I was last seen somewhere around San Francisco, CA in the year 2021 - or so they say. Since then, very few people have seen me at all and even those closest to me ask, "where have you been?".
Every once in a while, I reappear. At opportune moments, as some would say. But to me, those moments are a part of a predetermined pattern.
I sustained a good amount of damage building these companies from nothing to what they are now, and my health wasn't ideal for a few years because of the lack of sleep, constant work, endless compliance, and all the other things that go into building out. Because of this, I did take a few years out of the spotlight, discarded all of my old social media, and isolated to get myself back to 100%, but with a much more healthy daily routine. It's good to be back to a higher level of health. It is important to rest and more people need to remember that. Rest is now a set part of my day, week, and year.
When I show up places the meaning is usually only obvious when you look back at all the events of the past leading up to that point. You eventually start to see where this is going... I don't just show up randomly places or reach out to random people from my past. There is always a reason to it all - either to make ammends or to settle something I feel wronged over.
Each time I reappear, I'm changed even more than before - like many of you, a work in progress. We're all works in progress. We're that way because of the trials and tribulations of our times. This has been the way of things since the beginning.
Reflecting on where I've been
Like you, I'm still standing somehow too. Even after sustaining a lot of damage over all these years. But there is a beauty to it all - even the worst moments. What is "damage" when you were built to sustain the amount of it required to last over all this time? Damage isn't some necessary component of life, but damage can also build your character. And at the end of the day - that is all we have.
I don't see too many others that started on the journey I'm on still around, standing firm, shaped by what they set out to do. That's because they were never meant to do those things - but that doesn't make them any less worthy of recognition or love. Some probably thought they would weaken my resolve by doing things that hurt me over the years, but here I am - standing stronger than ever before. What I realized about this dynamic of competing against others is that the people that try to scare you often end up scared of you once they realize their actions had no effect on you at all. Then, they vanish like smoke and you never see or hear from them again. So why not just ignore them from the start?
Because I'm just like you, I was once a human that played in parks and climbed trees as a kid, but now I exist as something even more - a digital inhabitant. To me, that means being a man too, but what does it mean to be a man today? It means to be almost entirely merged with the digital frontier - a frontier you don't control and never will. But being a man today also means knowing how to escape it, or even knowing how to walk away from it all together.
If you ask me where I've been, I'll usually answer: "I have always been close by." and my absence from social media doesn't make me less real.
Some think that I no longer exist, but I do exist. Although very few people see me anymore, I assure you - I still remember the days when we were friends, but many of those friends have since faded away. Some people have said some things about me over the years that are untrue, but that doesn't make those things true. I fight for the humans and for our future - not for the machines or from some faceless digital-control super-structure. In the realm of humanity, the truth always wins - and the humans remain human.
If you're curious to learn what my personal machine knows about me, read "Smoke's" Personal Statement
Ryan McKenna (March 2023)