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The only thing scarcer than Bitcoin
The next chapter in my personal Bitcoin journey
This post is a bit unusual. I have decided to step away from my role at Blockstream and from the broader Bitcoin industry. As a part of that decision, I will for the first time in my life be dollar cost averaging out of Bitcoin. What follows is a brief description of how I came to that choice and what it means going forward.
The only thing scarcer than Bitcoin
Bitcoin is a technology designed to store wealth: a tool used for saving. Naturally, rhetoric around Bitcoin often bleeds into rhetoric about saving. A number of Bitcoin memes center around this duality: low time preference, HODL, diamond hands, stack sats, etc are all arguments about the virtue of saving. The subtext of these memes is that everyone’s goal is (or ought to be) to accumulate as much bitcoin as they can, forever. In this framework buying bitcoin to store wealth isn’t just a useful strategy, but a moral mandate. Almost a tithe.
The thing about keeping a long time horizon is that the human life is finite and, if we are honest about it, distressingly short. However low our time preference might be in theory, in practice we all have limited time over which to prefer. Sometimes it is less that we might think.
Around a month ago my wife’s father, Neil Holmes, passed away. If you’d like to learn more about him, she wrote a nice post remembering him for her newsletter. I don’t really recommend dying, but I do think the specific way he died (at home in his own bed, surrounded by loved ones, reading his favorite poetry) is one of the better possible ways to go. Less fortunate is how abruptly his time came when it did — he had only a few days between his diagnosis and his passing. Neil died with a lot of plans he never had the time to pursue.
"My dad loved his work but also dreamed of retirement. He retired after 42 years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in November 2019… 4 months before the pandemic started. As an asthmatic, he took quarantine seriously; we didn’t hug, he didn’t travel to the mountains as he’d hoped, and he saw few friends. I see the gap in our photo history together, but also a happy reunion with my eldest daughter after vaccination." — Laura Holmes
Watching Laura grapple with getting less time with her father than either of them expected has changed how I think about the time I have left with my own daughters. My eldest just lost her first tooth, my youngest is just learning how to speak. I do not know how much time we will have together, only that it is precious, beautiful and unbearably scarce. No amount of bitcoin can buy these moments back.
So I am stepping down from my role at Blockstream and away from the industry in general to spend the next few years being a stay at home Dad. Going without an income means I will be living off my savings, which means I will (for the first time in my life) be selling off bitcoin to pay expenses rather than using it to store my extra savings. I don’t plan to go to zero, but this will likely be the high water mark for my personal bitcoin holdings. Not because I am rage-quitting or have lost faith in Bitcoin, but because I am choosing to realize my profits in time with my daughters now, rather than "Big Wealth" later.
I also expect this to mean I’ll have more time to write again! I will be turning paid subscriptions back on and I expect the majority of my posts going forward will be for paid subscribers only. Partially this is because I’m looking for ways to supplement my income and extend my personal runway — but mostly it is because I am less interested in convincing people to pay attention to my ideas and more interested in sharing ideas with people who are inclined to pay attention.
If you have enjoyed reading Something Interesting and you feel priced out by the switch to paid, write me a note with your favorite post and why you liked it and I will send you a free three month coupon. If you’re already a paid subscriber and you want to spread the good word, send me the same note and I’ll send you a coupon you can share with a friend. Or an enemy? It’s up to you how you use it.
I am looking forward to getting back to writing and to feeling less constrained in what I can write freely about. My next post will be about the Cult of Bitcoin and how evangelical Bitcoiners are a noxious threat to the entire project. Stay tuned!
Rather than trying to convince the world to embrace Bitcoin, the cultists have built elaborate narrow minded definitions of who actually qualifies as a Bitcoiner. Of course, these restrictive definitions hamper Bitcoin adoption, but like any doomsday cult the Bitcoin cultists don’t feel any need to help the unworthy avoid damnation. The focus of the Bitcoin cult is not on practical work to improve the world as it exists, but on the holy work of immanentizing the eschaton, accelerating and preparing for the inevitable coming utopia.
Next Post: The Cult of Bitcoin Culture