At the age of 43 I suffered a breakdown, the worst of several which have been occurring periodically and escalating in scale. After a lifetime of conventional employment (beginning as a child with summer work in a family business on through reluctantly-acquired proficiency in three distinct careers), I hit a LONG-foreseen breaking point.1 I realized I could no longer live my life inauthentically – it was killing me. What I hope to provide on this page is the expression, at long last, of a life lived authentically.
On these pages I invite YOU to explore creative living and to reflect on your life and world from an alternate perspective. I truly believe that this perspective may offer you greater personal fulfillment. I also provide an opportunity to enjoy unique artistic expressions (mine and others), and an honest glimpse inside the life of another human being (it’s clear we have an innate drive to look inside the lives of others!)
I think my perspective is unique. On the one hand, much of my life, upbringing, and experiences are very common and relatable to the rank and file of humanity. But I was both blessed and cursed with (relatively milder forms of) mental illness and neurodivergence that went undiagnosed for 43 years. During that time, I learned to mask my deviations well enough to integrate into society and even achieve some forms of (transitory) conventional success while passing as a “normie.” In the process I have explored alternative ways to think and live. Many, perhaps most, will have little interest in investigating the perspectives and expressions that I offer. And that is okay! It simply means that I am not speaking to them.
But I am speaking to some. To these humans I offer validation and celebration of their experience and existence, as well as artistic expressions that I hope may enhance their lives.
I believe that 99 out of 100 products today add little of genuine value to the lives of humans, succeeding far better in eroding our habitat, our communities, and our spiritual fulfillment. The purpose of this site is to present the products of a uniquely-lived life and a uniquely-operating mind as an offering to my people, the human race. This is my offering to YOU, presented freely and without expectation.
At this time there is no “business” or services I am offering for purchase. But I am a human being with needs and responsibilities, and I would love to discover means to support myself and my family through my efforts. This poses a special challenge since I believe the vast bulk of products and services are more curse than blessing, so consequently I am an antipreneur. This, combined with some pathological inhibitions against charging a market rate for anything I provide, profound feelings of despair induced by prolonged daily repetition of ANY activity, flashes of inspiration that strike without warning which I feel convicted to capture in real time, and an utter lack of any business sense make me uniquely ill-suited to creating and operating any kind of going concern.
But if you have any ideas I invite YOU to help me create a livelihood from my own expression of life! By its very nature, this site is not designed to appeal to those who have achieved significant conventional success. Nevertheless, any creative input here is greatly appreciated. And, should you be so inclined and have surplus funds to commit, please tell me what I could offer YOU of meaning and value and that you would gladly purchase!
My hope is to enhance the lives of others by helping them experience and appreciate the world differently, to explore and celebrate their own unique and innate creativity, and, hopefully, to transcend some of the needless and artificially-imposed strains in their own lives.
My original intention for this website (more than fifteen years ago during one of my breakdowns), was as a platform for customers to hire my services as a day laborer (ideally for shovel work, though I won’t get into my bizarre enthusiasm for digging here – but that said, anyone in the Santa Cruz/Monterey/San Benito County area of California looking to hire as a day laborer an aging self-styled philosopher-cum-artist prone to bursts of inspiration which require immediate photographic or typographical capture, feel free to hit me up!)2
It also reflects my focus on the universal, the commonplace, the unglamorous and overlooked essentials of our fundamentally animal existence. (We much prefer to draw bold distinctions between ourselves and our little brothers and sisters).
Finally, it is an expression of dismay at our consumer “Waste-is-Growth” Landfill Economy. Such wonders of manufacture are used briefly and then consigned back to (pollute) the very earth that sustains us! We walk upon a veritable sea of fabricated “dirt,” any bit of which would be considered a remarkable raw material, implement, vessel, or device worthy of heirloom status to nearly every single one of our ancestors. Even without scaling back our standards and style of living, with the application of even a modicum of imagination and effort these discarded objects (each of which represent astounding amounts of invested and irretrievable energy and human ingenuity) could be repurposed in the most practical, delightful, and whimsical of manners. The expression of creativity is a fundamental source of human joy. And a civilization that encourages us to click and purchase for immediate delivery a specific object designed and manufactured to accomplish each and every infinitesimal purpose we can conceive of is a society that has eroded our human experience, individual expression, and personal development!
Of course I understand WHY this is – Society must keep us constantly occupied by way of full employment through the equally minute division of labor in order that we may continue to purchase these things that other humans, similarly occupied and minutely focused, are busily designing and manufacturing from the very earth we are strip-mining.
It makes me want to cry.
- Unless you are a member of the exquisitely cloistered elite, I bet you have sensed that it is getting worse out here. For me, it wasn’t the wars over depleting resources or the public mass killings that marked my breaking point. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was the debut of AI. I am convinced it bodes ill. I’ve worked like a mule my entire life, and I will not squander the twilight hours of a golden age for humanity sitting in some office. ↩︎
- I strive for humility. But I can accurately claim to represent an ideal assistant – a quick learner with at least basic proficiency or practical experience in a number of trades; a decent command of jobsite Spanish; a hard worker with a constitutional disinclination towards complaint; a team player who gets along well with virtually everyone. If nothing else I can pretty much guarantee a stimulating and memorable dialogue! (Notwithstanding my pedantic logorrhea, I don’t talk this way at all and I am a far better listener than you might think). Inquire via dirtsmith @ dirtsmith.com ↩︎