Lewis Quartey just wrote an entry on his blog called "Life's a Circus."
He quoted an old post of mine on writing more -
Life’s a circus.
Now, some people have this attitude of, “Well, all this doesn’t matter, so I’m just going to party, or do nothing, or whatever.” Me? No way! I think, “Well, most of this doesn’t matter, so I might as well found branches of science, do great works, build amazing things, make art, write, fund things, build things, fix things, serve people, and otherwise do amazing stuff.”
It's a nice post by Lewis and I'm grateful he liked that post and shared it. Since then, my views have updated a bit on doing big things, so I commented on his site -
Hey Lewis, thanks for the kind words. My views have shifted a tiny little bit since I wrote that post about what's important - I've gained a greater appreciation of people in support roles, who work behind the scenes, people who do what they can to help bring great events to the world but then don't want any of the credit. People in support, in deference, the medics and competent administrators of society - these are fantastic and important people worthy of all our respect, and their path is very good too.
With that said - I think it's good to reach as high as you can. Some people truly want to work in the back end of software and live a private life, living with pleasure over the excellent engineering they've done without coming to the forefront. That's very solid, very good. However, I think many people feel something inside them where they could raise a new banner, build new things, change things, really make a massive mark and be one of the first movers on doing that. For someone that has those inclinations at all, I reckon they should be explored - why not reach high? A lot of people say "I don't really want that" *when they actually do want it*, but are afraid. That's not good. Reach high. For the person who has the temperament of a trail guide, administrator, medic - that is fantastic and those are virtuous and crucial roles. Yet, if it appeals to you at all to blaze new trails as an explorer, to build new administrations, to invent and pioneer new medicines - then try. Definitely try.
That's where I'm at now - I've come to a much greater appreciation of the people who live in the support roles, who make possible everything magnificent that happens. At the same time, I think almost everyone occasionally get an inkling that they could try to invent or make art or really uniquely craft something at some point or other... and many people fight that off by saying "I'm not that kind of person," where everyone could try, and would probably be better off for trying even if it doesn't work.
Some people have temperaments and preferences for support roles, and those people are deserving of so much honor and so much respect and so much gratitude. They're crucial to humanity, to all of us. I overlooked those roles too much in the past with some of my writing, but to everyone out there who supports and props us up - thank you, and you're awesome.
But! At some point you might get the urge to strike off and do something unique and crazy, and I hope you don't say "Well, that's not me..." because it could be. So, do keep both perspectives in mind. We all support each other sometimes, and the best people who prop us up are truly titans of humanity. At the same time, most of us occasionally get the urge to strike off into uncharted waters, to blank spots on the map, to picking up a paintbrush and trying to do something ridiculous. Even if you're normally a titan and pillar of our society, you can still find a couple hours to experiment with coloring in that blank spot on the map. Both paths are open.
And life's still a circus.
Reading Sebastian's blog is like my daily dose of magic pill, giving me a quick fix and energy. Thank you!!
Existentialism is not sustainable. We all need faith to survive. Ultimately it all boils down to accomplishing whatever makes us happy and others could also potentially benefit. :)
"Reach high, as high as we can."
Last note, in the long river of history, everyone,I think , is a supporting role. Whether we are significant to the humanity or not is left for others/post-generation to decide.
A few of my friends - three friends, to be exact - mentioned to me that I write a heck of a lot on here and they're impressed. I have convinced the ultra-smart Sami Baqai to start blogging, and he just got the holy-shit-this-is-hard-I'm-overwhelmed feeling. Ah, yes, I have been there Sami. Perhaps I can share some thoughts.
First and foremost, I am a huge devotee of the Equal-Odds Rule. As far as I know, I'm the only person talking about it outside of academia. This Amazon review covers it pretty well:
The equal-odds rule says that the average publication of any particular scientist does not have any statistically different chance of having more of an impact than any other scientist's average publication. In other words, those scientists who create publications with the most impact, also create publications with the least impact, and when great publications that make a huge impact are created, it is just a result of "trying" enough times. This is an indication that chance plays a larger role in scientific creativity than previously theorized.
So I read that, and I'm like - whoa. You know Neo in the Matrix? Whoa.
If you want to make excellent stuff, you need to make a lot of stuff.
I have this little analogy that i like to tell people who are interested in starting a business.
Think of your business as a restaurant. What you're telling me is that you want to take a piece of land at what you consider to be a good location, and build a restaurant.
I say, instead of building the restaurant, cook the food first, and let people eat it. And if they like the food, then build the restaurant.
What I mean in practical terms is, test the market before you do anything else. Especially with the internet, it's especially easy now to test the market. Here are some examples:
A client wants to buy a house to rent it out, but he's not sure if he'll be able to rent it. I say, put an ad up on CraigsList (or similar) as if you already have the house for rent, and see how many interested parties you get. Then use that to gauge whether or not to buy the house. You've spent just minutes of your time testing the market (see my related musings about the 80/20 rule below).
I have this little analogy that i like to tell people who are interested in starting a business. Think of your business as a restaurant. What you're telling me is that you want to take a piece of land at what you consider to be a good location, and build a restaurant. I say, instead of building the restaurant, cook the food first, and let people eat it. And if they like the food, then build the restaurant. What I mean in practical terms is, test the market before you do anything else. Especially with the internet, it's especially easy now to test the market. Here are some examples: A client wants to buy a house to rent it out, but he's not sure if he'll be able to rent it. I say, put an ad up on CraigsList (or similar) as if you already have the house for rent, and see how many interested parties you get. Then use that to gauge whether or not to buy the house. You've spent just minutes of your time testing the market (see my related musings about the 80/20 rule below). You want to build the next cool gizmo. I say, put a website up showing pictures of the gizmo and have an order form, then try marketing it to the people you think will want it, and try to get some pre-orders on the product. So test, test, test, and don't be afraid to tell everyone who will listen about your idea. Don't guard your idea because you're afraid that someone will copy it. You ar so much better off getting feedback from anyone who will listen, because guaranteed, it will be many times better than if you try to figure the market out by yourself. You might end up with 100% of the product/idea if you do it all yourself, but 100% of zero isn't much.