Entries from November 2009 ↓

Things I have learned

I’m not old, a mere 27 years in fact, but there are a few things I’ve come to discover. Things that it’d be nice to have been taught in school, but that instead I’ve discovered haphazardly:

  1. The first step to doing anything is believing you can – One thing that I’ve noticed, is that some people sabotage themselves before they even try. They just believe that they can’t do something, or it’s too hard. Some people have told me I’m smart, whereas mostly I think I’m pretty average. What I do however, is have an absence of restriction. If I want to do something, the only restriction is time. This is important when you’re doing something like working on a thinking machine.
  2. You can’t do everything – You’ll notice the caveat above about time being the only restriction. When I was a kid, I wanted to read the entirety of Encyclopaedia Britannica… I got to about “Aardvark” before I realised it was mostly dull (no offense to the long-nosed beasts!). I’m still struggling with this one, I have so many things I’d like to do, that I frequently wonder if I’m overcommitted and if the more optimal path would be to obsessively focus on one thing and one thing only… but then I realised that if I tried that I’d get bored. I’m too curious and have grown up in the age of variegated knowledge at our finger tips.
  3. Emotions are cues – they give you an indication of something going on internally. Something that might not be able to be immediately expressed verbally, and if it’s a negative emotion it probably indicates something isn’t right. And by “isn’t right” I don’t mean it’s necessarily to do with the external world, it could be an indication that there’s something inside that hasn’t been resolved. However, don’t make them the focus.. since everyone likes analogies, and I’m particularly good at straining my analogies: think of emotions like the gauges on your car for temperature, fuel, etc. They are important, so that the engine doesn’t explode, or so that you don’t run out of fuel, but if you spend the whole time focusing on the gauges, you’ll miss the scenary. Anger specifically, I feel can be boiled down to “when something or someone doesn’t act the way you expect/want them to” – every time I’ve been angry, it’s because my expectations don’t match reality… so mostly it’s about having a world view that doesn’t quite match reality (or the consensus of reality, as described below).
  4. Nothing is objective – you can argue whatever view you like, but most of us reach consensus about a specific interpretation of physical reality because of shared modalities and the wet-ware for interpreting them. That doesn’t mean you’re right if you subscribe to the current scientific consensus. Humanity collectively believed silly things like the world being flat, or the Earth being the centre of the universe. Knowledge and truth are dynamic, and they’ll continue to be so. Keep an open mind. And because I like loops, link back to point 1 about believing you can… since nothing is objective, you can believe you can do anything you like[1].
  5. I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones that came to me just now. What do you wish they’d mentioned to you when in school?

    [1] If you believe you can fly, you can (buy a plane ticket, or go sky-diving). But jumping off a building is just dumb, so don’t do that ok?