Your Life's Work

The days are long but the years are short

Here follows some scattered, but hopefully as a set cohesive justification for my tripe.

What do you do? Who are you? Why are you?

My father was notorious for starting things but not finishing them. He was just a few credits shy of receiving his bachelors degree when he dropped out of college, never to return. I'm 31 years old as I write this and feel that I haven't accomplished all that much. While it may not be completely fair, what is definitely true is that I don't have a lot to show for my work. So while it may be easy to blame genetics, to whatever extent procrastinating is genetic, it's my bad habit, and I'm trying to break it. Even so, I may be selling myself short. As part of my employment I produce quite a bit, but it's a bit ephemeral - everything I create now will be replaced or removed eventually, often after only a few years. When I do complete something, I don't do a great job of celebrating and memorializing the moment. That's one of the ideas behind this site, to serve as a library of things I've done. I also like the aspect of documenting important things because my memory isn't always great.

Is the purpose of life to work?

It's important to note that when I refer to my life's work, my work is not my employment. My identity and self worth are completely separate from what I do to earn money. While I am proud of some of the projects I've been a part of as part of my employment, this isn't a productivity or work thing, and I don't even consider myself that great of an employee. My life's work includes that, but much of my work, I'd even say my most important work are the things I'm not paid for - my work as a father, as a husband, and as a citizen. So not only is it not employment, it isn't even about being productive. Life isn't just about getting things done. A lot of it is about working with what you have and slow but progressive optimization of your environment - avoiding long term pain (which counter intuitively can require present pain, or at least resistance, in the physical health realm especially). When I talk about optimization, I want to have direction. I'm tired of feeling aimless. One thing I try to do, is take time for this process. Some may call it self care, but the idea is focused effort on making my life better. 30 minutes a day. Maybe not even that. It could be spent coding, exercising, whatever needs to be done that day.

Everything is content

Photography has changed so much. When I was young, although my mother was a prolific photographer, very few photos of me were taken by today's standards. Of those that were, I think my biggest disappointment is they are all pretty much the same - posed, standing next to some people or alone, standing in front of something or nothing. They say "look at me in this place" or "look at me with these people!" There's nothing wrong with that per se, but I do find it quite repetitive and dull when viewed in the aggregate. Photos can say a lot more. I think the next level above this is "look at me doing this thing" which we see quite a bit of on social media like Instagram. This brings me to documenting for clout. Life isn't experienced organically when everything you do is viewed through the lens of content. For various reasons, usually motivated by money or attention, many people today do this level of documenting. "Look at me, I'm the type of person who cares for hermit crabs, and here's me with my newest"

Why write?

I want to record my personal history. There's practical benefits, like being able to look up recipes and solutions for work problems, but also for others that come after me. For my family especially. I believe writing clarifies my thinking and it serves as a snapshot of my thinking at the time it was written. I've always been a note taker. Every once in a while I would read my old notes, from 5 or 7 years ago, and find the same sentiments and goals as I have now. I don't want to waste this life I've been given. While I'm here I should make the most of it and live free of regret.

Everything has been said before

A common mental blockade for me when trying to write some of my thoughts is that others have written the same idea as me, and often in a lot better terms, with a lot more detail. While I have barely scratched the surface, someone out there has dedicated weeks of research to the same idea. Ultimately this is a fallacy. Instead of thinking about the whole world of writers, where yes someone has definitely written a much better form of the same thing, think about who you are writing to and more importantly realize that while someone somewhere has said it before, you haven't said it to the people who care about what you have to say. And taking this objection to it's extreme, there's no point in telling your children they love you, or writing a song for them.