From "Connected (with Abe + Isaac) — Volume 10"

You’re here for volume ten! 🥂 On the tenth anniversary of an important thing, discussed below. That works out well. Things tend to, you know? I don’t think life could exist, if they didn’t, and we’re glad you’re a part of it all happening. :) Find a comfortable spot, and enjoy what happens next.

“Imagine how you’ll feel in ten years!”

Isaac here. 👋 I just got off the phone with someone on my team, talking about the week, about holding ideas peacefully until understanding emerges, about deciding to determine your own happiness (!), about throwing yourself at the ground and missing (with eternal respect to Douglas Adams). Also, about teapots. 🍵

Ten years ago this week, Tristan chose to focus on a moment ten years in the future, in which he could look back and say that he hadn’t smoked a cigarette in all that time. Without being rigid, with allowing himself freedom, he said to himself, “imagine how you’ll feel in ten years!”

This is it! This is it. This is how you create a living thing: begin with a feeling, and let it grow.

Interjection: while I was writing a bit further down, Abe scanned the line above over my shoulder and said “EVERYTHING I PLAN WORKS LIKE THIS”. The more I learn about how my husband works, the more I like him. <3

Making a feeling

This last week, I celebrated ten years of building things for Shopify. (For the uninitiated: Shopify is a platform for commerce, and you’ve probably purchased something from a Shopify-powered store this month.)

And honestly, ten years in, the thing that I want to say is that it feels good. Only that. :)

I was talking with someone a couple weeks ago, feeling out a potential future for our respective companies, and it came up that this part of Lightward serves more than 8000 businesses around the globe. The person on the other end of the line said, “so you don’t sleep at all, do you?” But I do, and it’s because I’ve made sure I could sleep at every stage.

This is kind of the whole idea. Make something that feels good, out of right now, out of whatever you have on hand. (You have everything you need.) Balance it. Let it grow. Rebalance as needed; it will be needed.

For me, this is only possible with specific focus on what I’m actually making.

I didn’t make a company. I made a feeling.

Ten years ago, I was in a context that was asking for something that felt better. I moved some pieces around, I invented something new, but the point wasn’t the invention itself – the point was that I knew it could feel better, and I found a way to allow that to happen. And I put the invention on a shelf where other people could find it, and I let it be.

I mean that literally, and strongly: I let it be.

And for me, that meant not trying to make this new thing into anything, not trying to achieve anything outside of the now, because I had complete control in the now (and you do too): I can take whatever’s here and create from it a feeling, and I can share that feeling with whoever wants in.

I think that’s the only thing I’ve ever done. They say that people will remember how you made them feel; I suspect that feelings are really the only thing that we make, and all the physical accoutrements are secondary manifestations.

So. Ten years. Ten years of creating balance. Ten years of passively monitoring for imbalance, not actively looking for it (because you find what you look for), but of keeping an eye out for that flag in the back of my head that goes up when something needs adjusting. Ten years of seeing the Being in each of my ten thousand users, and the millions and millions of their customers. Ten years of absolute trust that we will always have what we need.

I talk about Lightward in terms of an experiment. “Can we run a company like this, where the whole deal is to take each step towards the light?” I can do better than that phrasing, though. Because it is absolutely clear: I can run my life like this, on every dimension, and that 100% includes that-which-convention-calls-work.

Here are some things that are true about what I’ve done:

  • I never took a big risk. Each risk was small. There were a few big steps, but each of those was a move made in absolute strength and certainty.

  • While there have absolutely been moments of unrest, of little sleep, of worry or anxiety, they are in no way dominant. There is an overriding calm and assuredness that runs through the entire thing, and we never stray far from it. And, importantly, each break from that alignment teaches us how to better hold that alignment. There are no wrong moves. It’s not possible.

  • I trust easily. I did at the beginning, and I do now. This means trust for both myself and others, which means that when I know something or someone will work, I go for it. The results are always good. They may not be what I thought I would get, but they are always good. (To explain by example: I once opened the hiring process for someone who was missing a background I thought I would require, but I opened the process because I felt strongly that it was worth pursuing. While in process, circumstances changed in a way that led me to close the process, but the “risk” I took in even considering that person opened up their own perspective to new kinds of jobs, and they’re now in a role that more perfectly suits them than anything they thought possible before.)

  • I have been generous. With my customers, with my team, with myself. (It took me a while to figure out how to talk about being generous with myself, but it’s a thing I’ve had for a long time.) I have been generous because I have always been certain that there is enough, and I have always found evidence to support that.

  • Overwhelmingly, the lovers have outnumbered the haters. (And the vast majority of the haters just need to be given space, it turns out.) Consistently, meeting people with love invites love in return, and I have ten years of positive interactions to back that up.

  • It’s been fun. :)

At no point has there been a map. Each choice leads to an equally-infinite future, and so there has never been a need for one. I’ve made choices that felt deeply right at every turn, and the thing I celebrate ten years in is not that I’ve built something specific or achieved something measurable (although those things are all a TON of fun to recognize) – I celebrate the story of an evolving flow, and I celebrate a long history of choices towards things that suit me, in my health, perfectly.

Ultimately, I celebrate that I am standing exactly where I want to be. :)

It feels good. I started to experience something stressfully last week, on the actual ten-year anniversary of some specific code I wrote, and I caught myself: hang on, I’ve been doing this for ten years, and there is no WAY that this scenario has ANY claim on my happiness whatsoever.

Everything is worth celebrating, at every stage. And that line in the sand ten years ago is just one way to mark the time. And so, grounded in love for the story as an unending, un-beginning whole, I am wholeheartedly celebrating these last ten years. It is good. :)


We love you. It’s a brisk Colorado afternoon, and writing to you feels like a good use of this time. Enjoy your day. :)

Originally sent out via email

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