This Post Not Sponsored By Unbound Merino
it really isn't
I have these two perspectives on my life. The first is gratitude, only gratitude, saturating, luminous, absolute. My life is a treasure and I’m lucky in uncountable ways. Some evidence for this view is that it happens to be the default most of the time. If it weren’t extremely plausible it wouldn’t be so thinkable.
The second view, however, which does slip in sometimes, is that I’ve made terrible mistakes and now I am making the best of them.
Among the mistakes is my decision to live a laptop life. You know what I mean: I am a laptop person. Everything happens in this rectangle, this sparkling jewel of modern industry. Here is my work, much of my play, much of my social life, all flickering and disappearing at 60Hz. Most of what I have done on earth is information that only flares into reality at the behest of server farms and liquid crystals.
Kind of seems fake—plasticky, insubstantial, illusory. Like, some guys build log cabins. Some guys own asbestos plants. So real, so textured, so surrounded by decaying leaves, so saturated by manly sweat. So much of the sinew and the cellulose. Meanwhile I write blogs.
Once I was in a deep moment of meditation, in one of those really deep trance states where it feels like you’re glimpsing the very edges of the soul. In that dark, purplish tracklessness, I asked myself, where am I? Where is the substance of my soul located? Mostly on the Internet, I responded, and that seemed undeniably true, as well as totally hilarious, utterly ridiculous.
But let’s get back to gratitude for a second.
My online following, even though it’s relatively small, has many benefits. I’ve drawn, from the pool of my internet tolerators, dear friends and collaborators. At other moments, people invite me to stuff, and people know who I am at parties sometimes. And, more recently, I made a sassy tweet about Unbound Merino shirts, and they offered to send me one, so I could see what I was missing.
Despite myself, I was excited. Unbound Merino shirts have a reputation, among the laptop-wielding class, for being high-quality.
I can now say with authority that the shirt is exceptional. They’re quite cozy, but also manifestly sturdy. The fit isn’t quite as tailored as I’d like, but I am perhaps too fond of displaying my torso.
Part of the marketing of this shirt is that, well, you’re Unbound. Free of the normal burdens created by normal clothing. Apparently, so we’re told, one can travel for weeks in this shirt without it becoming smelly or misshapen. This makes it easier to travel light, to jet around the world, so you can have continuous adventures, or just live your remote work lifestyle in Sao Paolo or Lisbon. As the website screams: “PACK LESS. EXPERIENCE MORE.”
I haven’t worn the shirt many times, it just arrived, so I haven’t tested out this claim yet. It seems plausible based on the garment’s current condition. But do we really want to be Unbound?
For a few cumulative years, I’ve lived the life of a wandering laptop guy. And here’s the strange thing about it. It’s absolutely magical, but it also kind of blows.
Nomadic periods of my life should’ve been perfect—they were composed of everything I liked, and little I didn’t. In my serviced Bangkok apartment, I didn’t have to do any cleaning, or deal with lease agreements, or bear the burden of the Canadian winter. Every meal I had was exquisite Thai food, or exquisite snacks from 7-11. When things got monotonous, I took off to Nepal, or New York, or Portugal.
And I was tremendously privileged to live this way. But what many people living such a life discover is that when you get rid of life’s annoyances, you also have gotten rid of life. Small nuisances provide texture, repose, form, cushioning. Also, a lot of our social bonding is created out of shared annoyance—much of what connects us is our small, similarly timed miseries. The more you opt out of our collective material imprisonment, the more you opt out of the collective. In most ways, I feel more personally connected to the work I do while I’m nomadic, but my body and my mind felt substantially more united when I was waiting tables. I was much more a part of a real social fabric.
Could we wish for a better social fabric? Absolutely. Can we just have one? No.
And look. Nothing about Unbound shirts requires you to live in a disembodied way. You could wear Unbound and live the most dewy Terrence Malick-type life possible, running around with all of your babies in the dirt at magic hour every day. You could like become weathered by the sea breeze over many seasons, wear a black Unbound V-neck, then beautifully get really fast cancer and die on a moonlit deathbed surrounded by loved ones. This assignation I’m making—this freighting their brand with a disembodied minimalistic lifestyle—is, ultimately, a conceptual pairing that is insubstantial.
But I don’t know what else you’d expect of me. This is the kind of man I am. Much of what I do is insubstantial. Much of what I do is completely divorced from what you can touch, from flesh and blood, from the movement of the earth. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had water straight from a well, or seen an animal giving birth. In some ways, I’ve managed to live a totally exceptional existence while missing out on the stuff of existence, just like all the other laptop people around me.
Unbound Merino shirts are really nice. Also, their customer service is great. I fucked up the shipping address twice and they happily sent it to the right place in the end. (I’ve been moving around a lot, it’s what I apparently do.) So order one if you’re looking for a good durable everyday garment.
But, more importantly, enjoy your bondage. Your bondage to this body, to other bodies around you, and to the fire and the ash and the water and the wind. That is all, really, you have—that, and the nameless beyond.