The colorful wolf

July 17, 2008

The things that matter

Filed under: Daily Life,Thoughts — randy @ 1:31

I rescued a kitty today.  Well, it wasn’t only me. Another guy did most of the work. But I helped. I like to make it sound better than it was, but I didn’t do that much. I noticed the littly kitty stuck high up on the ledge in the morning, and I contemplated whether I could/should help him or not. I decided not to, and had a bad feeling for the whole day. During lunch break I forgot about him, but when I finished work the little kitty was still there. Most people couldn’t care less and just went home, but 4 other Japanese people were not leaving, trying to think of ways to rescue it. One of the guys climbed up on the ledge via a tree, and chased the cat all the way to the edge of the ledge where it became too narrow to follow. From that side I pushed the cat back with a giant 3 meter long bamboo stick that just happened to lie there in the bushes. The ledge was over 3 meters high! Finally the guy was able to grab the kitty and bring it safely down. Right about each one of us realized for ourselves that we had no clue what to do with it.. In the end the guy who rescued it took it home and said he would call a pet shop something or other the next day. A happy ending.

I’m losing sight of what’s important. Getting stuck in a life rhythm that cannot change. After getting used to something it’s always hard to change, especially for a guy with my personality. I’m just too easily satisfied. I should set higher goals for myself. One of the goals that I want to set is about work. I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about procrastination, how to work efficiently and how to make the most out of your time. Ironically I have been doing this during work hours. One big truth that came to me in one of these articles is about different kinds of procrastination. I often get bored easily even with the most exciting thing I am doing at work. So I do something else: some other menial task that also needs to be done and from which I also get a certain satisfaction. I use this to avoid some problem in my main task that prevents me from having fun at work. Strange contradiction indeed. This by itself is halfway towards the right way of working, the other half is overcoming that reluctance to work on the big task that I’m trying to avoid. It turns out all I had to do was find out the reason why I was avoiding it. Lack of knowledge. There was a big black area in my head where the problem started. I’ve filled that black void with the knowledge that I was lacking to handle the problem, and now I am ready to attack it with all my energy. I’m ready for it now, because I know that there is a solution, and I am not far from it. And with that I conclude that my work is ready, simple and waiting.

If only my private life were as easy as programming. Fortunately many of the same concepts occur in both themes, and problem solving and goal setting are both very important. A program has a purpose. A goal. When thinking of its purpose we often don’t know yet exactly what problems we’ll face, or if it’s even feasible. There might be some insurmountable problem waiting up ahead ready to take down the whole idea. Programmers are good at problem solving. They find solutions, redefine purposes where necessary, and basically ‘refactor’ wherever they see fit so that the program matches exactly with the image that they have in their mind. There are striking similarities and stark contrasts with society here that I don’t want to mention explicitly here. Using programming as a metaphor for life works for me, you pick your own metaphor. And if there are such similarities between life and programming, then one truth must be the same in both worlds: you can’t solve the problem if you don’t have enough knowledge, and the more knowledge you get about the problem the more confident you get. A simple truth, worth repeating for posterity’s sake.

Sometimes simple truths get forgotten. Sometimes you’re in so deep that you lose track of the big picture. Narrow focus means you discard a lot of information that could be potentially useful to you. You need the big picture. With a big emphasis on need. Without the big picture it’s hard to find direction in your life. Some people approach life as a never-ending sequence of tiny little problems without ever questioning why these problems need solving, and what the end goal of solving those problems will be. Most people will never have a big grand goal at the end of their path, though, but even so, looking for structure is a common sense in most people. Wanting to know ‘why’ we do things is important because it allows us to think for ourselves.

In an ironic way anime helped me a lot in seeing the big picture. After seeing hundreds of hours of anime pass by my retina I am disappointed in many of them, but impressed by the message that almost every anime sends out. There is always such a thing as character development. When the anime is finished the main character will never think about the world in the same way as he did when it started. Such a ‘eureka’ moment may occur once or twice in a person’s life, a moment where he suddenly realizes “What the FUCK am I doing with my life?!”, but in anime it happens all the time. Unrealistic as it is, the reccuring theme is valid enough to make me think about my own life on occassion, and it gives watching anime an added dimension for me. Even if the anime is about a hopeless teenager who has a whore for a girlfriend and whose only skill is to drive a car around Japanese mountain passes quickly, even such an anime, especially such an anime can make me see the big picture. This anime is called Initial D by the way, and I doubt many people would like it, even though it’s one of my favourites.

Well, good. Another article I read recently stated that if you want to be skilled at anything, you need to produce, no matter what your skill is. If you want to write, start writing. If you want to be a photographer, start taking pictures. If you want to be a programmer, program. If you want to be a hero, start rescuing little kitties! And when you do, you’ll find out that it’s quite a different world out there when you’re producing stuff yourself instead of claiming to be ‘just as good as…’ from the sidelines.

I don’t often consider that stuff that I do as an aside could be something promising in the future. It probably isn’t, but it does signify a clear interest. I have no aspirations right now of being either a full-time photographer or a writer of any kind, but I do have a clear interest in these fields. And as long as I am producing, I am improving. I’m rich, smart and healthy, and who knows, maybe five, ten years from now my hobbies will have developed into something quite interesting. And perhaps that something can help me, five or ten years later, to find out what I actually want to do with my life.

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