On Slow Processing

Tagged as Personal
Written on 2011-06-29 04:25:49
To paraphrase the writing of Matt Albie, "This is not the blog post we intended when the week began." [1]
Ed. Note: This is 1000 words of self-indulgent drivel. Welcome to the World Wide Blogosphere.

Things have been moving wildly fast of late. It's been pretty damn hard to know what to make of it, frankly. As a consequence of things moving so fast, I've been pretty far outside my normal routine for over a month...almost 2 months. In some ways, I view the divergence and my activities (vastly more drinking and socializing than normal) as a coping mechanism. You've got to try to either make sense of the new world or keep yourself from being freaked out or crippled by it. Evolve. Fast. Under the surface, I know that the real work is going on. The slow processing. I *hate* slow processing.

Slow processing is what happened after Dad died a little over 2 years ago. It's what happened after I broke up with Teresa a little over 1 year ago. Thankfully, this year has been a brighter, less traumatic side of slow processing spurred on by graduation, an apartment with one of my dearest friends and a truly great job. Slow processing is important. It helps you figure out where you went wrong or what has changed about your circumstances and environment that necessitates new goals and outlooks.

I think in a lot of ways, I'm doing slow processing because I only had my life figured out this far. Survive to 20s, get a good job...blank space. That's stressful. And terrifying. I know I want to be married at some point though I still have a lot of fears about having kids. In part because a) you have to take as a given that you're going to make serious mistakes and b) there are enough people doing it that there's no way to distinguish yourself or your kid. The amount of faith required is tremendous. It gives me respect for the people that do it in some ways...but I'm sort of wary and distrustful of the whole enterprise. Then again, you can't fix the earth having too many of the "wrong kind" of people without trying to make some of the "right kind". Some huge presumptions and judgments being made in that very sentence though, eh? Who has the right to reproduce? Unfair.

My bigger problem is that I don't know what my personal goals are. I'm settling into a rhythm now, getting back into exercise, cooking, skateboarding and hobby hacking (though only on the weekends, weeknights I'm still drained from work). My boss and others seem to be satisfied with my performance at Cox so far and I'm thankful for that. I, however, am much less satisfied. I don't want to say *unsatisfied* but I'm certainly not patting myself on the back and thinking I'm a bad ass when I get home. It's more like, "Keep at it. You'll get there." ... if not necessarily that gentle and kind. You have to push yourself, you can't trust *anybody* else to know your limits or do it for you. I was thinking earlier that your 20s is all about being (almost) totally and consistently unsatisfied with your performance and position in life...but it makes more sense to me as a lifelong outlook really. That said, you *have* to find a way to do it that doesn't tear down your efforts to improve and demotivate or it just destroys you. I'm still working on that...

So where does that leave us? It's back to that very tiresome, age-old question of what matters. I've got limited time here, even less of which when my body is in peak physical condition and tonight I wanted to run until the whole thing turned to slag. I think marriage is important to me personally because I want to share and trust myself with someone. I don't want to wonder who will provide a good sounding board for my thoughts at a given time...and the world moves too fast and life is too short to spend alone. As for life goals, I don't have a good grasp on them at the moment. I read about some of the work done on Google+ today and have been following various compiler developments with a decent amount of interest of late. I doubt I'll ever be quite that good a programmer. The sacrifices are significant.

So what can I do in my time that matters? I'm fine with the answer that "nothing really matters" and I do not say that with a heavy heart. There's something very beautiful about the arbitrary right to sketch out and gradually stumble upon or decide the meaning of your existence. Sure, only a handful of people will notice your absence a year after your death and only a handful more will really hinge on your existence while you're alive. So what? That's plenty to live for. But I don't think it answers the question of real, higher-level goals and objectives. So do you strive to be the best in the world at something you care about? Or love people near to you and have a content, maybe average, life? I don't know. I'm a little disgusted by too much self-indulgence and taking it easy. It seems like settling too much, though that word and my mental approach to the question is condescending, pre-judgmental and full of bias. Then again, I'm not motivated enough by a particular cause to forgo consideration of the self and forsake all else whether the cause be civil liberties, IP law, art or optimizing compilers. I guess I'm just in an awkward middle period again. As my good friend Max would say, "C'est la vie." As the office IRCbot olga has said, "What we do in life... / Is there a step I'm missing? / Inexorably."


[1] Watch more Studio 60. It's good for you.

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