Mo Bitar

@mo

Notes to self. Working on Standard Notes, a simple and private notes app.

66,860 words

bitar.io @bitario Thank
You'll only receive email when Mo Bitar publishes a new post

You, Deity

We make plans as if our future self were rational, when present self is never more than a galactic mess of emotions.

Present you is the only possible person that can save you.

How to learn programming the natural way

Some years ago, I had a fellow developer ask me where I learned to type on the keyboard. I said, huh? What do you mean. It’s a keyboard. You just tap on it, and eventually you get rally tappy on it. I’ve been doing it since I was three feet tall. He said oh. “I took one of those Mavis Beacon typing classes.”

Both of us, at that point, were equally proficient in typing on a keyboard and understood the super complex mechanics of hand placement and proper finger etiquette. I learnt it absentmindedly, and he learned it brute force. The result is the same. One method is just less exhilarating.

As I’ve stretched through my expanse of time, I’ve found it somewhat increasingly difficult to teach myself new tricks. As a kid, learning is a thing you’re always doing. As an adult, learning is something you need to make time for. Today, programming is as gushing a prospect as gold in the old west. And right before you are all the tools you can possibly need. Tragically, the burden lies on you: will you put in the time?

But as I’ve heard from others, and read on blogs about people’s journey to learn programming, two things are mentioned very often: it’s very hard knowing where to start, and it’s very hard even after you know where to start.

So lots of people give up.

I’ve given up on many, many things in my life. Programming was not one of them, and I’m grateful to my past, clueless self. But that’s exactly it: I learned programming not because of some grand insight and keen forethought. I learned it because I wanted to change the damn color of some rectangle to red.

That’s it. That’s all that's needed to learn programming. You can read hundreds of blog posts and watch a dozen videos on how to program, and at the end of it still be completely incapacitated. Or, you can feel your way through it. From an end result, work backwards, rather than forwards. That is, rather than starting from the absolute beginning (which is completely maddening by the way; blank slates are the most uncomfortable point of any project, even till this day), you start with the end result already in front of you, and you tweak some tiny variable, and you see how it behaves.

That’s sort of how machine learning algorithms work, isn’t it? You try this statistical possibility, observe the result, and give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. Eventually, it finds a way. You, a machine learner, do the same: find the source code of a complete project, set up the environment (here be dragons), and get the app running. Then, find one thing you want to change about the app, like a color, font, width, height, and figure out what file you’d need to change to do that.

Changing a green rectangle to red might take you hours on the first attempt. Maybe even days. You’ll have to google yourself to exhaustion, in ways you’ve never googled yourself before. Eventually, of course, it becomes common to you. So you give yourself harder and harder tasks. “Ok, I can change the rectangle to any color I want. Can I make two rectangles appear side by side?”

Follow that path, continually make new challenges for yourself, and eventually, you’ll know how to program. Programming isn’t a bunch of rules you need to learn in some strict order, and even if it were, it might take the rest of your life to learn them all. Programming is just this language you learn to speak in varying degrees. You never quite master it. You entertain yourself with how expressive you can be with this newfound language.

But you learn to speak it, just by speaking it.


My wife gets notified of new blog posts, read this one, and said that it inspired her. She said, however, that it might be helpful if you included some resources in the post. I said, well that's the whole point: you don't need any resources. You just need to find an opensource project, and run it. She said, run it where? I laughed. Ok, so obviously, there are different levels of expertise here. But, the point is, you should struggle a little bit. It's ok not knowing. As long as you have an end goal, and are determined, you will find a solution. You can start with running the encrypted notes project I work on called Standard Notes. It's in JavaScript, and setting it up locally is not too bad:

https://github.com/standardnotes/web

Dog food is soylent for dogs

What to feed the poor little man? This dog is real beyond words, and every slight negligence of attention on my part is an injustice to his world. So I try to accommodate our guest. Love, warmth, long walks, and infinitely satisfying cuddle sessions. I would be a five star establishment, were it not for negligence and ignorance of the most important part of the experience.

Rock food. How painful yet the sight of it is. Tiny rock-hard pebbles that give your dog only the best of what he needs. The true essence of food. The bags are irresistible: a menagerie of perfectly seasoned chicken, rich sweet potatoes, forest green peas, and some radioactively violet blueberries. You buy the bag thinking, that’s all in there. But, let’s be honest. It’s not. You, me—we’re just suckers for marketing. We're not the ones eating it. No, we’re sold on the image.

But give it to any dog that has tasted real food, and they will be the first to tell you—this is not real food. You’re an asshole for feeding me this. You try to bargain, convincing him and yourself that this is the only sustainable arrangement. He says, I’d rather starve.

And so my dog does not always display his highest levels of motivation towards rock food. He’s obviously not dumb enough to starve himself to death, so he’ll eat it when he’s given up all hope of a better life. Food is one of the most intensely satisfying experiences of this strange existence, and I rob him of this pleasure daily.

The real yet silently cruel solution would have been to never expose a dog to real food, show him this rock food, and say, “I swear, this is how food is on planet Earth.” But, it’s far too late for that here.

I saw a viral tweet some time ago about a guy who fed his dog raw meat for a period of several months (ground beef and chicken legs, if I remember correctly). He showed a before and after picture, and it was thoroughly stunning. The dog's pale white coat and deeply tired eyes transformed into a rich golden fleece and a sharp, bold gaze.

Can it really be?

Who knows. It’s hard to tell what’s real anymore. So I put it in my backlog. “Look into this.”

Today, as I was pouring some bagged rock food with excellent branding into my beloved dog’s plate, I finally looked into it. And I said, what is this crap? Like, seriously? I shook the bag around, and the rocks started moving, banging against each other with a thick kshhhing sound. I smelled it, and it smelled like nothing. What’s...in here? So I took a look at the ingredients.

Organic chicken, organic chicken meal, organic sweet potatoes, organic chickpeas, organic peas, organic blueberries, organic alfalfa meal, organic coconut oil, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, salmon oil, iron amino acid complex, organic rosemary extract,…..

Well shit. I mean, this checks out, right? Those ingredients all sound good. It’s got all the things that food science says should sustain a long, healthy being.

Something like Soylent, right? Exactly like soylent. Dog food is soylent for dogs.

And now I feel bad. Have you tried a soylent diet? I couldn’t last even 1 day. Real food is unmistakable.

Common Genius

Excellent taste plus average resourcefulness, or average taste and excellent resourcefulness, is about all it would take.

Resourcefulness is a better way to phrase intelligence, as intelligence seems useless without the ability to impact neighboring matter. Resourcefulness can thus be found anywhere, and not imaginarily confined to unique circles.

I had a friend call me once, lamenting how his unique struggles are owed primarily to his high level of intelligence. I said, are you sure? Now don’t get me wrong—this man is a genius of unique kind. But what even is intelligence? Your ability to solve a math problem? Or your ability to influence others? Even if we agreed on a definition of intelligence, it would be too single-minded to have any real influence. You need something more. Or, I would be prouder to possess another trait.

Resourcefulness sounds like spontaneous intelligence. Academic intelligence, on the other hand, has no more than the ability to write books, which is profound in its own regard, but not what we’re looking for here. Street smart? Sounds like it. I think that’s another way to say resourceful.

Average resourcefulness plus excellent taste can yield great products, yet if you find yourself lacking in taste, excellent resourcefulness can more than make up for it. The boss level is out of this world. Excellent resourcefulness and excellent taste. Only a few names come to mind, one of whom crafted the device I’m typing this on. But, take any high quality product, and there’s your magic sauce.

Can either be acquired through brute force? I’ve found that taste, you wake up to, and resourcefulness, well, that wavers. It should be an always on thing, but that would take us into the mind-fatiguing topic of the energy required to fuel resourcefulness.

Simple

I told my friend, my requirements are: simple work, simple life. But I also need this amount of money on a monthly basis to find peace. And that I would need more users to get there.

More.

Ugh. That word. I cried in agony. What a trap more is. More is a thing with madness as its only logical conclusion. So why chase more?

More users.
More employees.
More revenue.
More markets.

More problems.

Why should I bother? I should close off registration today and say, That’s it. We’ve hit peak users for our company. Thanks for stopping by, but we're going to focus all our attention on our present user base. We're going to form a happy little self-sustaining community around an impossibly stable software product.

Can you imagine? What madness, huh?

Well, there’s no winning. I want peace, I want simplicity, but I also want more, like every other damned human on this planet. Which way should I go? My mind only looks to growth as the next possible step. My chatty metamind looks ten years ahead and says, for what? It’s all the same. My friend might at this point quote the buddhists and say, find peace with what you have. Or better yet, stop running from peace.

Is there buddhism for business?

Not all days are equal

Good days are good, bad days are bad, and there's nothing you can do about that. I find that if a bad mood stupefies you as to its origin, then, it's probably not your fault. You don't always need a reason. You can have two identical days with the exact same starting points, variables, circumstances and factors, and have the best day you've had in a long time in one, and be completely miserable the other, and have absolutely no guesses as to why. If it were deducible, which I do not think it is, it would be in the realm of chaos theory and not calculus, which even then would be difficult enough. Better to say, "my chemicals are off today." It's not me. It can't be me. I did nothing that could have possibly brought this on myself.

Not that this solves anything. I mean, I blamed it on my chemicals today and still felt like shit. But, if ever I had the impulse to start finding reasons as to the root of the cause, my shitiness intensified. God forbid I start asking myself, "what do I need to start changing about myself?" That's when the real stress kicks in. When you blame it on the chemicals, instead of blaming it on yourself, it at least leaves opportunity for a hard reset tomorrow. Usually, my chemicals do reset the next day. And I'll have no idea why I felt so bad yesterday. But, if I blame it on myself, then it almost always transfers over to the next day. Chemicals solve themselves over night. But self-condescending analysis of some deeply-rooted theoretical problems you may have carry over like an unsolved bug. And since they're only theories, you may never make progress, and trap yourself in a never ending cycle of self-pity.

Good days are good. Bad days are bad. It's as simple as that.

Notice

You're more likely to notice the bad things around you, than you are the good things. This is easy to notice. I have around me right now innumerable good things. I'm sheltered in a warm room, and have an endless supply of coffee. That's pretty good. My dog is snuggling cozily next to me, I'm not tired, I have food to eat, my bills are paid. Great, great things. But, it would be silly if that's all I thought about.

No, better to think about the bad things. So I can fix them.

Which proves, it doesn't matter what you have or don't have. Everyone is the same in that, when you have something, it's no longer on the fore of your consciousness. When you don't have something, it's all you can think about.

No one is better off. That we look to the future acquisition of some material as the next step in our journey towards contentedness is a trick our mind plays on us to compel us to act, not necessarily for our own good, but the collective good.

Ambiance Monetizer

I was at a coffee shop today and overheard someone talk about a book they purchased on Amazon.

Upon hearing that word, a bit immediately flipped in my brain and reminded me of a few things I’ve been meaning to order.

So I went and made a purchase.

I thought it would be funny if at some point Amazon introduces a device shops can place to monetize their ambiance, which at random times during the hour has no other purpose than to scream “Amazon!” as obnoxiously as possible.

Not open to suggestion

I recently took a trip with a friend, and noticed myself behaving extrinsically, rather than intrinsically, and felt dirty about it. That is, rather than drinking coffee when I felt like drinking coffee, my friend might awake earlier than me and say "Hey, I'm making coffee, want some?" To which I might reply, sure, why not!

I thought this was harmless, but carried on to other elements of life, you start living a life of suggestion.

"Hey, I'm taking a walk, want to join?" Sure, why not! When really, maybe I wanted to walk an hour from now.

That I was open to suggestion at first appears to be a trait of open-mindedness, but later manifested itself as: I don't feel that good. I drank coffee when I usually wouldn't have. I took walks when I usually wouldn't have. I ate this generously offered candy bar when I usually wouldn't have.

So the next day, I told my friend, I'm not open to suggestion today. He said, I'm making some coffee—want some? I said no, sorry, not open to suggestion today. I drank coffee about 45 minutes later when it felt right within me to do so. My friend said, hey, it's nice out, want to go on a hike? I said no, sorry, you go ahead. I'm not open to suggestion today. I took a hike about an hour later, when it felt right within me to do so. I applied this pattern throughout the entire day, and felt thoroughly better.

When I returned home, I felt myself unable to shed this mentality. I started becoming ultra sensitive to everything that was suggesting me to do something I didn't necessarily want to do. Everything in the artificial life is designed to influence you, and when you perform activities not because they feel right, but because there is either "nothing else to do", or because it's a certain time of day, you're living a life of suggestion.

The most flagrant belligerent?

The huge television in my living room. How else is one supposed to design a living room other than a square arrangement of sofas facing a huge flat screen TV? We certainly didn't know any better.

I found however that when I entered my home, tired and wanting of rest, and definitely without the thought of watching TV having crossed my mind—when I enter and sit on the couch, the huge TV is practically begging me to use it. The entire living room design is centered around the suggestion of watching TV. So, in many cases, you end up watching TV, or playing video games, not because it was inherently what you wanted to do, but because the design of your life is centered around oppressive suggestions that can be difficult to detect and resist.

We are constantly being suggested to—how we should feel, what we should be talking about, what activities we should do. When you open Twitter.com, there is a list of trending topics, which suggests that you too should be apprised of these events, and perhaps contribute to the conversation. You see your follower count, which suggests how you should feel, relative to others. Advertisements on TV are flagrantly suggestive, almost as to be entirely offensive. When I returned from my trip, I couldn't believe that flagrantly suggestive advertisements ("Cool, healthy, and fulfilled people drink Diet Coke.") are even societally acceptable. But what can we do.

In the country, on my trip, avoiding suggestion was extremely easy. It was a mostly natural environment. Back in the city life, everything about your environment is unconsciously designed to influence you. I avoided any thought or desire of watching TV or playing video games on my trip, but as soon as I returned home, my environment sucked me back in. Slowly at first, and now my grip is relinquishing entirely. Something needs to change.

I'm tempted to scrap my living room all together of any suggestion. If you want to watch TV, go on into that other room where the TV is. As for the living room, it should be a basecamp from where you launch your activities, based on internal impulses and not external influence. I would have done this in a heartbeat, but, obviously, "real life" has certain conditions. The in-between solution my wife and I agreed on was that we could cover the TV when it's not in use, perhaps either with a pull down curtain, or some sort of shutters. Why should a huge ass TV constantly insist on itself, even when you are not using it, or have no intention of using it?

I'm finding it harder and harder to resist suggestion in the artificial world. You can't just change yourself. There is no you. There is just the environment that makes you. It's why bad habits always come crawling back. It's not enough to just change yourself.

I'm still fighting hard to resist suggestion. I haven't checked any feed of any sort since my trip, including a Twitter feed, a news feed, or any other news-based feed. My rule is, you can tweet out if you want to, but, no feeding.

I also don't mind checking Twitter notifications if I have any, but again, the timeline is off limits. It's an endless feed of suggestion. "Don't know how you should feel right now? Here is a list of suggestions based on what other people are feeling." It's not a way to live.

My hope is to be intentional. To do something because it's inherently what I want to do. This isn't a blanket assault on consumption. It's an assault on unguided, unintentioned consumption. You can play video games, but only if you had it in your mind that you wanted to play video games prior to sitting down on the couch. You can watch TV, but only if you had it in your mind that you wanted to watch TV prior to seeing your TV. But when you are completely empty, and at the mercy of "what are my options?", you'll never quite feel at ease. You will always be at the mercy of suggestion, very far away from your internal state, which—make no mistake about it—has the ability to be at reasonable peace.

It's not your fault

Several years ago, I went vegan for six months, because I wanted to be conscientious. I was fortunate enough to exit that unfortunately ascetic lifestyle after realizing:

It’s not your fault you like meat.

Humans have been eating meat long before I was ever born. Long before any of us were ever born. We’ve been eating meat for millions of years.

If I crave it, it’s not my fault. Sure, I can try to fight it. I can resist my hardware. But if I give in, it’s not my fault.

It's not your fault the entire premise of biological existence is feeding on other biological beings.

It’s not your fault you’re confused living in a strange and artificial world.

It’s not your fault you like sweet and salty foods, even if to an excessive degree.

It’s not your fault you’re sexually forageous, even in a relationship. Your body doesn’t know.

It's not your fault you've been conditioned to seek external sources of pleasure under the rule of consumerism. We are impressionable beings, and you were born into a world where small-minded humans before you have already strictly defined all the things, and how too you should see it.

It’s not your fault, during the endless dregs of your day, you flick ceaselessly through Twitter/Instagram/Facebook searching for something new.

It’s not your fault you're tired, sad, helpless, misshaped, sick, lost, fatigued, confused.

Because there is no you. There is no human individual. What we know as human is topological; is emergent. It’s the interconnected network of many of us. That's what makes you. One human individual is an alien concept altogether—one which is thoroughly unexplored, and ultimately undefined.

It’s not your fault you’re the result of history before you; that your thoughts, ideas, principles, fantasies, and desires are sometimes, maybe even often, culturally out of line.

It’s not your fault you’re trapped in a world you didn’t design.

The Artificial Life

There was a story some years ago about living circumstances for the 1.3 million employees of Foxconn in China, the company that builds Apple’s products. It’s a problem of scale, no doubt, but these workers lived in crammed boxes stacked atop one another high into the sky. In between the buildings, there was a net.

The net is an admission that suicide is embedded into the overall design of the arrangement, and short of a full-out global economic revolution, this was just the way it was going to be.

I thought of those people, and shook my head in pity. Those poor bastards.

In Sapiens, the author argues that the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago was the death of individual happiness. Systems that solve many of our problems do just that: they do the thing we were supposed to do. Millions of years of evolution have designed a human who feels at its most natural when performing certain actions which are in accordance with its instincts. In other words, it was by design that if you performed these actions, you would biologically feel good. That’s the whole premise.

In a few short years, and counting, we’ve managed to “solve" most of our yucky biological chores, like hunting and gathering, washing, cleaning, and today, cooking, traveling, and foraging (now called yelping).

It’s all taken care of by Uber for X.

What remains? What remains when all of our million-year-old chores are domesticated, and made ridiculously effortless—as easy as a few haptic taps on a surface? What do you call that existence, when you are completely absolved of biological chore?

Enter The Artificial Life.

The Artificial Life is not one of nature. It is a woefully unprescient conception designed by us, and mostly facilitated through the use of language. Our bodies, our minds, and the concert of their interactions are unable to fully appreciate the Artificial Life. It's still trying to do something else.

The Artificial Life is city living. Any city. If you can get food delivered to you in under an hour, you are living the Artificial Life, even if you don’t exercise that power frequently. In the Artificial Life, you do things that are abstract; that nothing in the natural world, including our bodies, can really make sense of. Watching Netflix on a rectangular TV hung up on your wall? That isn’t a real task. It’s not a real thing. It’s abstract pleasure for our unapologetically reward seeking mind. Our brain is tricked in a hundred which ways before watching Netflix is recognized as a real thing you’re doing. But our body doesn’t get it. It produces real chemicals when things happen on a fake display.

Here are things you might do in the natural world that evolution has recognized as fulfilling:

  • Hunt or gather food
  • Cook the food
  • Collect wood for a fire
  • Build a fire
  • Build a home
  • Explore the earth around you
  • Do nothing, after a tiring day’s work

Here are things you might do in the Artificial Life:

  • Have food delivered to you in 35 minutes
  • Set your Nest to 74 degrees
  • Turn on your digital fireplace
  • Build a home in Minecraft
  • Explore Twitter
  • Do nothing, after a tiring day’s work, and feel guilty for doing so

Is it any wonder why fulfillment is lacking in abundance in cities?

I spend a lot of time fine-tuning my artificial life to optimize for fulfillment and peace. I make progress, but it’s always fleeting. The wisdom which I might have gained a few weeks ago about being more present is today no longer cutting it. I need something new. So I go search, for the same thing, in a different package.

And this cycle repeats, and repeats, and repeats. I might just be ok realizing there is no fulfilling city life. Not until a bridge is built between the abstract and the physical. Not until our bodies understand where they are.

Presently, they haven't got a clue.

Imaginary

Sometimes, when I’m deep in it, I think that there are several billion people on the planet, all worrying after something. Each and every one has found some way to entertain their mind with the wonderfully wicked world of what if. And it must be, if each of us is worrying ceaselessly after something—it must be that our worlds aren’t as real as we think they are.

Sometimes, it helps to know that my problems are sort of...imaginary.


After reading the above to myself, I realize another aspect, which is perfectly contradicting.

Emergence is a wild phenomenon, and something that would by definition be impossible for the individual to recognize. Emergence, put simply, is the phenomenon whereby the sum of the parts exhibit behaviors not present in the constituents. Wikipedia:

Emergence is a phenomenon whereby larger entities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities such that the larger entities exhibit properties the smaller/simpler entities do not exhibit.

Perhaps our worrying is a great contribution we make to the collective entity that is Human Emergent? I'm accustomed to viewing worrying as a bug, not a feature; a vestigial trait. But, I don't even have to contemplate the bigger picture aloud: it's clear something's up. This level of advancement, while infinitely underwhelming, appears to be unheard of.

Perhaps our sadness, worry, and anxiety is a uniquely delicious nutrient for Human Emergent?


This Kurzgesagt video delivers a quick mind-blow on the topic:
Emergence – How Stupid Things Become Smart Together

Chaos Theory

Not writing yesterday felt so good. And, now that I'm off the hook to produce on a fixed schedule, I can write flexibly whenever I want, in between tasks, like right now, at 2pm. I am no longer my own boss.

I came across a really good quote the other day, which describes a theory of life in surprisingly succinct terms, in a way I hadn't encountered before.

The quote comes from, of all places, a movie on Netflix called When We First Met, which was actually pretty good.

Down on luck person:

I thought things were supposed to happen for a reason.

Other, chill person:

That's what strippers and idiots say. Things happen..randomly. For no reason at all. But they create opportunities. And you learn from those opportunities, even the missed ones. The question is, can you recognize that next opportunity, when it matters the most?

Random shit flies every which way -> creates opportunities -> rewards distributed to those who recognize and work towards the opportunities.

What I like about this is it puts the onus on the individual to be keen and perceptive. It's a finding game. We never stopped being hunter-gatherers.

Masterless

Honestly, I wanted “Time is patient” to be my last post for a while. Because it so perfectly captured what I wanted to spend my time on. To live presently, and to not be in constant thought, focus, and anxiety.

Writing every day has many benefits, but it has also produced some strange effects. One is, I express myself so vividly here, that I do not feel the need to express myself any further, in real life. It sort of gives me my social fix. I was already reserved before this; now, it's intensified. Besides, I usually like talking to people as a way of deceitfully working out my own problems, disguised as genuine conversation. When I write every day, my problems are worked out on paper.

Which is good. But also exhausting.

I’m not defeated. I’m not sad. Today was actually a nice day. Fair weathered and fair tempered. A cool 56 degrees. I went on a nice walk with only a sweater, and not my thick winter jacket. It was a preview of the spring to come, which winter always teases us with before descending back into arctic temperatures, then easing all at once into spring. It's a coming which I so look forward to every year.

The thought of toning down the frequency of writing is scary. It’s been a tremendously useful habit, but, I am obliged to it. I am not free in a given day until I finish my daily writing. My friends know this. My wife knows this. It’s shackled me as a merciful master. But a master nonetheless.

I want to explore the patience of time. To live slowly, in the moment; unquestioning and unassuming. To tone down my analytics.

Perhaps it would be amusing to explore different writing formats and frequencies? Once a week? A month? Perhaps that will give me more time to incubate my thoughts, and discover their depth.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll write again tomorrow. But this is me flirting with you, to absolve me of my social contract. I want to be free.

A world awaits

What I like most about vacations is the difficulty with which I come to a decision in going, and the ease at which I feel when I return. Even bad trips invigorate me in some way. It’s escaping your circumstances just a little bit; separating you from them, and seeing yourself behave in a different habitat. It’s almost shocking what part of my mood is directly tied to the routine I’ve managed to sink into.

Sinking into is another phrase for complacency, and I think of all the horrible acts we helplessly inflict on ourselves, complacency is the real silent killer. Sitting on the couch is at once the most glorious moment of any day, and the most painful. The further I sink into it, the more my body takes on that shape, and struggles in defining what a normal posture is anymore.

I think it’s the same with routines. They dig deeper into themselves, solidifying their neural weight with every unattested day. Vacations have in every case reset my weights, and unshaped the memory foam of my last several months, allowing me to form a different, and oftentimes more nuanced, pattern.

The logistics of traveling, I loathe, and is enough to deter me from it altogether. It’s planning, choosing, and deciding. The rest is always freeing. I think it would not be totally foolish to say by now, that behind every inconvenience, lies a world of subtle opportunity.

Time is patient

One year is really long.

Ten is an era.

A hundred is a lifetime.

A thousand is a millennia.

Ten thousand is incomprehensible.

A hundred thousand years—unimaginably vast.

Yet two million years.

Two million years is the amount of time, give or take, that nature has been thoroughly employed with this side project.

The human species is a project that seems fresh, new, and cutting-edge. Yet it has been a work in progress for countless millions of years, if not billions.

We like to fancy ourselves the apex of nature's technical ability. We are the latest. We believe we are indispensable. Our mission is too important.

But time is patient. If humanity were to wipe its own existence, time will be unfazed and unmoved. What's another two million years raising up a new species, when it has the patience for billions?

If humans destroy themselves fully tomorrow, I do not believe nature would mind spending another five billion years on the problem.

Maybe ten billion. Or twenty.

Or maybe another hundred billion years?

Time is patient.


This understanding has grown recently within me, in response to my utter impatience towards the growth of my work and self.

For the last uncountable number of years, I've constantly told myself, what you're looking for—it's right around the corner. It's so close. You need to hurry.

I've told myself, my story is conclusive. It has a beginning, middle, and end. And I need to race through the pages.

In reality, the story is never ending. The book's pages never stop turning. Racing through it will drive you mad. And sure enough, madness ensued.

The current page of your story, of the whole collective human story, is special and sentimental only in that we are a part of it. On the grand scale of a story which began infinitely many years ago and will continue uninterrupted for another infinite number of years, our pages become not so permanent. They fade. The future is no doubt influenced by the past, but the contents of the past fade, given some eventual number of millions of years.

In some sense, this understanding has freed me from obligations to my legend. I look back on my footprints, and make sure they are neat and tidy. But it need not be so serious. Even if the universe has set for you some specific task, to fill some particular niche—it does not utterly depend on you. Even if it takes another hundred thousand years. The job will eventually be done.

The patience of time is mesmerizing and beautiful. There were humans who struggled about daily life, loved, and suffered two million years ago. And the project continues. Improvements are imperceptible on the daily, monthly, or even yearly scale. It measures progress on the order of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years.

Nature puts on profound displays of patience, yet I for some reason feel the need to measure myself after every task; to constantly see how far I've come, and how much further I have. It's madness.

Twenty years.

That's the outlook I want. I want to give what I'm working on twenty years, before measuring. Before being expectant. Before contemplating tectonic shifts.

And what's the rush? You're one of infinite characters in a never ending story. Time is forgiving. Live slowly, patiently, presently; you need not reserve all your happiness and adventurousness for some future date when circumstances will be perfectly lukewarm and idyllic. When the story never ends, every point is as good as the next.

Visitors

We are content to the great gods—
Characters,
of a never ending story.

Bye bye

I'm taking a spontaneous, much-needed road trip to some remote cabin in Wisconsin with the wife and dog. The indoor atmosphere here has grown noxious from my ceaseless huffing and puffing. I should leave a window open to air the place out.

I'm leaving..right now actually. Coming back Sunday.

Vacations are a great way to test the resolve of your daily routines.

If I stop writing..ah, who cares.

Lethargy

This winter's been long. It's gotten me trapped indoors. My dog and I yearn for freedom. Change is afoot. I just..need to..snap from..this haze..

Because title, here's a dump of some unexpounded thoughts:

Every day, we choose when to resign.

Life is impossible to fill. It’s just too big.

“It has solved a lot of problems, but it's also created a whole new set of problems” is probably the best deal you’ll get in life.

Growth doesn’t operate on the same timescale as consciousness

You can’t skip quality. Nothing is more effective than confidence in your own product.

The natural course of a public company is to Amazonify.

What if Elon Musk's flamethrower is a way to slowly begin desensitizing us to the prospect of SpaceX selling weapons?

You won’t like someone you never met.

Say what you will about it, Twitter excels at delivering the basic function of a social network. Have you ever felt this undetachably connected before?

Every night at 11pm, I want to sleep more than I want a billion dollars.

...

An old friend

As predicted, the big project is complete, and now I’m impatiently trying to figure out what’s next. Do I code more? Do I do more marketing, whatever that is? Do I live off daily maintenance chores? These things should be easy. Why is this stuff not easy? Ahhhh. It should just be automatic. I figure at every "next" point my compass will automatically recalibrate. Instead, it seems to shatter completely, forcing me to assemble a new one from some unknown materials.

It’s frustrating how non-responsive life can be at times. By this point I am probably irreversibly trained to respond to positive events in realtime. Everything on the internet is realtime. Everything in the non-digital world moves much more slowly. This confuses my brain, especially as it pertains to the topic of notifications, or analytics, or any form of measuring. In the real world, measuring cannot be done every time you pull-to-refresh. It's more on the order of months and years. But when you introduce speed-of-light into the equation, the brain grows befogged.

I’ve disabled realtime measuring of my progress, but, without a concrete next step, it’s just listless idling.

Let me struggle with this for a couple days/months.

God damn it.