The main question that’s been on my mind for a few years really- apart from things like “how am I going to put food on the table”- is “what is the greatest good I can do in this world?” Which is a slightly glorified way of asking “what should I do with my life”, once you’ve accepted that the answer to that is “serve others”. So I’m really asking- how can I BEST serve others? I’m not looking for what feels best, I’m looking for what IS best.
I used to volunteer at prisons and it was remarkably fulfilling and soul-enriching. I went in there naively thinking I was gonna help them, ‘heal’ them- but really, they healed me- of aches and ailments I didn’t even know I had.
But would that have been the best use of my time? I don’t think that’s very likely. There’s a small chance that someone I helped might go on to play a role in something amazing but that doesn’t seem very likely. I don’t mean to put those guys down- just that there are surely other things to do, other ways I can reach out to people who would then be in a prime positron to reach out to others in turn. Teachers do that I suppose. Every amazing teacher I’ve had deserves credit for any success I might ever be blessed with. So do the authors who’ve written books that inspire me. And what of the teachers that taught mine, and the inspirations of those whom inspired me in turn? Surely they deserve credit too. You quickly see how credit attribution is continuous rather than discrete. Everybody and nobody deserves credit for everything and nothing, in varying degrees.
That’s fine and all but how does that help me make a decision? I suppose I have to do what sets me on fire- better to be really really…
When you can’t do anything else you should just generate content and lay out everything in your head in front of you, in words. At least, that’s how I work. My mind has had lots of practice reading and writing and this may be what is best for me. Your mileage may vary.
My new favorite concept is refactoring. I first encountered it on venkatesh rao’s blog but I wasnt sure of what our meant specifically. I got the sense that it meant re-focused in some sense- which isn’t entirely wrong. It’s simply (and not so simply) the act of cutting the fat from something so that it becomes more refined, superior in its ability to achieve its intended purpose. I find this to be fundamental to art and expression, though it’s technically based in programming. It’s about elegance.
So I’ve been meaning to refactor my blog, my life. To get more value out of what I already have, simply by shaking it up and trying new arrangements. New systems. New alignments. New ways of doing and being.
My other favourite concept is the desire path.
I believe I’ve spoken about this before.
I haven’t done a word vomit in a long long time so I let me get right to it and try to go through everything as fast as I can. I think some of the stress and neurosis I’ve been feeling has been from hiding certain things. Let me come out and say them.
I got married in December last year to my childhood sweetheart. It was a small, simple affair- we got registered at Wheels and Weiners, which is a lovely little rock and roll diner at perak road, near sim lim Square and la selle. We did it primarily to buy a HDB flat, which we did- we got the keys in january.
I got employed by an awesome startup called ReferralCandy, the whole story is here. It’s absolutely awesome and I can’t imagine having a better job. I often feel like I don’t deserve it- like an imposter really- but I’m determined to grow into the person my founder believes I can be. When I look back on my life in a while, I believe that this job and this working environment are going to be a hugely significant element of my personal development.
We got a cat. We call her Sierra. I was never really big on animals, but my wife has wanted a cat since she was a child and this particular cat called out to me in some way. She followed us home twice so we took her in. It’s been an interesting learning experience doing research and asking fellow humans for advice.
She has a mind of her own and, for a period of time, was very eager to jump onto the ledge outside our window. We found ourselves grappling with parent-like dilemmas- we want her to be happy and free, and we don’t want to limit her freedom, but we don’t want her to fall to her death either. She was pretty upset about it for a while but now seems pretty content to be a house cat as long as we feed her and clean her litter.
It’s a strange, humbling experience for me to have so much insight into another creature’s toilet habits, output volume, etc. I think it’s been good for me. She can get annoyingly noisy sometimes, but she can also be adorably affectionate.
It occurs to me that single children (or youngest children, like myself) who’ve never had pets may find parenthood startling. Being responsible for a pet feels like middle ground. We’re not planning to have kids but I can see how they might enrich your life. They give you new eyes.
We got to responsibility. I am an irresponsible person. Prior to now, I have never been a responsible person. I never learned. I never cared. I was never entrusted with anything important, and I was always forgiven for my indiscretions.
I’m not sure how best to talk about it. I don’t want to point fingers and blame the world for who I am today- though we all know that does play a significant part. I don’t want to be fatalistic or pessimistic. I believe that I am capable of change, that I can act on myself. I have projects in my life now that I care about deeply, and my own Incompetence and irresponsibility is holding me back. This simply will not do. This is a demon that must be slain.
Let’s continue where I left off. I believe that the solution lies at least partially in meditation. I dont mean that to specifically refer to any particular practice or doctrine. I just mean that in a general principle sort of way. It’s like saying that you need to study- that doesn’t mean you need to go to a school, but it’s also entirely possible for you to achieve that state in a school. So you shouldn’t write school off entirely- it could work for some people.
As I was writing this it occurred to me that you could learn math best by pursuing physics- and you could learn meditation (in the sense that I describe it- practiced focus) by running, or lifting weights, or writing. I think writing might be my salvation. So I just need to write more.