by Javantea Sept 3, 2008
I went on Amazon and found a watch. It's a timex ironman, like I said, but one of the features I liked about it has changed on all the new models, the old ones had start/stop lap/reset side by side on the front. Now they have start/lap on the front and 4 buttons around the sides. Must've decided it was cheaper and/or more likeable. I looked through 50 versions, even the "traditional" version has a single button on the front. I wonder why they didn't call me before making the decision. I really feel old now. =) As they say, "times (timex) change".
Old isn't in the years since you've been born, a lot of people age really slowly, and some people (especially meth/heroin addicts) age really quickly. I still don't consider myself old. I'm wiser than I was when I was 16 and my problems, responsibilities and possibilities are totally different, but even my situation doesn't declare me old. If I keep clinging to my youth and the youth of people I know, I'm certain to be a 35-year-old kid some day (actually that's not too far away). I think the real definition of age is how many things you've yet to do. It's a rather backwards way of looking at it and rather morbid at that, but if you consider the years ahead rather than the years behind, you can plan for what you'll be doing "then", where "then" is any time you wish to consider. If a person plans to live for 10,000 years, they will have thousands of years ahead of them, making them eternally young in comparison to how old they are bound to be. A lot closer to the present, this year I'm headed for a major breakthrough. At midnight after my birthday, I made a lot of progress. I don't know when my breakthrough is going to occur, but I sure know what I'm going to be doing until then.
Looking forward too far of course doesn't work very well*. If I've got to finish 3 websites before the end of the week, one of which can be put off for 6 years, guess which isn't going to get done? We've gotta get things done now, but we can't do everything now. A lot of life is build up. There's the work that pays off every 2 weeks, the projects that pay off every once in a while, the fun that always pays off now, and all the things that don't pay off that you gotta do anyway. The plan is to have fun while doing all of these things. And when "then" comes around, enjoy.
Of course retrospect is 20/20. So looking back at the past 8 years... I see that at age 18, I was a wild-eyed kid going to college looking for something I was not certain to find: a better way of life. I learned that education while boring as hell was not very profitable. Learning skills that cannot be applied does a lot for a person if you don't count monetarily. So exiting college during a downturn in the economy when all budgets supposedly froze, I had no way of earning income (or so I thought). Living a year on no income did not work out. Without proper immediate motivation, I could not use my immense free time to any useful goal. Moving home almost instantly reminded me of immediate motivations. Even then it took 6 months to get to a point where I was motivated enough to actually make an ultimatum that I could act on not knowing the repercussions. Who said that nothing changes on New Year's Day? Oh yeah.
Luck would have it that after years of not finding a job, I get a job in one day. The next year I did a bunch of work, had a ton of fun, possibly my best year counting everything, maybe not. Exactly a year after starting, I was laid off and kept working as a contractor part time for 3 months. I decided that instead of paying off all my debt right there and finding a job, I would find a job in my own time and work on my own projects. That was a mistake, though I did learn from it. Having a bit of fun and not finding a job at the expense of a large sum of money is not the right thing to do no matter how long you can live off it. If I could live for 50 years on the money I spent that year, I would not benefit a bit until I started working with motivation. The immediate motivation removed, projects get done very slowly or not at all. There's one thing you can do with time and money: travel, and that I did. I had a ton of fun.
There needs to be a deadline that is backed up by incredible suffering in order to force action, right? No. Motivation has two sides, says a Psychology 100 lesson: positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Both have the effect of motivating an otherwise lazy person (or animal) into action. Negative reinforcement is the incredible suffering noted above. Positive reinforcement involves reward for action, no reward for no action. Remembering the previous paragraph, we're less likely to do things with no reward, more likely not to do things with negative reinforcement and no reward, and the most likely thing to do is those things with great reward. So this becomes a pattern by itself of course creating awful conflict so long as positive and negative reinforcement are constantly forcing action. But ultimately, it's the person who is in control. If a person like my friend Josh thinks of action being dictated entirely by reaction to external stimuli, they're definitely not looking at self-awareness close enough. A huge amount of information is loaded into a person's mind and choice depends on a person's honest individual thoughts. So a person is in charge of their actions enough to make a huge difference in the way they live, some people more or less than others.
And so now here I sit on the edge of a possible breakthrough. It doesn't look like it, but this is perhaps the big thing. Maybe it'll take 6 years to look like it or maybe I'll call everyone I know, screaming tomorrow that I've done it. You see, there's a lot of filler to life and the more you avoid it the longer it takes. This essay is almost entirely philosophy. What is philosophy if it doesn't tell us how to live? When I was 16, I was fortunate to have a few friends who were philosophers and told me wise things I should do. They (and another friend) saved me from making some awful mistakes in the short term, but there's nothing they said that could stop me from making mistakes in the past 8 years. I wouldn't be the person I am if I didn't make those mistakes. Learning from them built a lot of character. If I knew then when I knew now, I would say: learn your lessons fast, work sucks, but by golly we live in a material world. Until you change that, you're bound to work and earn every penny you spend. Lesson 1 from Cowboy Bebop Episode #11, there is no free lunch. But that's not the last word. When you're working, you can kick ass. No, not while flipping burgers, afterwards. During your free time, you improve your life. If you have no job, you had better be kicking a lot of ass trying to make some money. Without it, you may find your motivation in eviction, the eventual bankruptcy or broken fingers dealt out from debt collectors, but all those are _so_ far off, they hardly show up on the motivation chart.
That's why people choose a challenge. If something is easy to do, you can't be motivated. Rock Band is an extremely difficult and skillful game that is a ton of fun to play. Every day I play the same songs and I get 10,000 more points than I did the day before. The other day I got 303,360 points on Green Grass and High Tides (made popular by The Outlaws) on the hard level. It was so difficult that I was huffing and puffing while I pumped both fists in the air jumping around my apartment. Fun and challenge make for a great motivation. But I won't be making money as a drummer any time soon (it's really too early to say even if I did get good).
I became a hacker partly because I had a knack, and partly because it was cheap and fun, but mainly because it was an incredible challenge. I made an attempt at CTF quals to learn, and what I learned was that I have a long way to go, but that I, AltSci am 88th place team by myself against teams of 5-25. It wasn't that big a challenge, was it? There are bigger challenges. OCTF this year I had a great team of hackers (Neg9) and we got 4th place. It was incredible to think that the 5/6 of us weren't the best hackers in the room. We could be the best hackers in 1000 rooms full of hackers easily, but when you're good, there's always good people who show up and do some great work. What will motivate us this year to learn more skills and do more hacking? The challenge and the fun will certainly motivate us this year.
But where do we connect motivation to play, to hack for free, to pay bills, to work, to the breakthrough? If you are looking closely, it's about age. Yes, I'm wrapping it up, this is the conclusion. The things I learn today are the things I use tomorrow. I paid for the lessons, but I got a good deal. That is what age is about: trading years of nothing for years of something. I'm not talking about retirement. I'm talking about here, now. This is the something -- how could a philosophy text be complete without explaining the meaning of life as it revolves around my current actions? The meaning of life if most certainly learning how to do things correctly, learning things you don't need to know, doing all those things you end up doing, doing them right and meaningfully, and having a ton of fun doing it all.
Metallica Enter SandMan Rock Band Drums Hard 5 Star 5 yr old or "A Young Boy's Illustrated Primer".
New song I just heard on the radio.
PS. There's something seriously wrong with the new Firefox extension called YouTube Comment Snob. Only enable it long enough to find out what's wrong with it and send a bug report.Permalink