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A lot happens (jessenoller.com)
268 points by devnonymous 484 days ago | hide | past | web | 138 comments | favorite



I can't say I've been there, but I've certainly been to the same city. It's why I now work part time. We don't achieve anything without goals and aspirations, but it's easy to get crushed under the weight of too many. Jesse is a fantastically talented guy, and - in one of life's little perverse twists - that's exactly what makes him vulnerable. Those who are most gifted and most able tend to develop the highest expectations, both internally and on behalf of those they love. It's tough to feel like you've fallen short, even when you realize the goal was unrealistic or that others would have been happier for you not to try. It takes a real adult to engage with these issues, and something more to share the process with the world as Jesse has done. That's courage right there.

I doubt that Jesse will ever read this. I sure wouldn't if I were in his position, because this is exactly the kind of non-supportive community he was talking about. Nonetheless, I'll say I'm glad to see he's moving forward once more, still kicking ass even when his legs are sore. Good to have you back, dude.


I did. And thank you - you hit the nail on the head with "It's tough to feel like you've fallen short, even when you realize the goal was unrealistic or that others would have been happier for you not to try."

As for the rest, simply thank you - and yeah, I shouldn't be reading the comments ;)


It's so easy to get carried away by enthusiam, ambition, pride, fear ... it happens to most of us all the time. Luckily I belong to the people who run out of energy fast. Therefore I need to stop and break and make a reality check for myself regularly.

I'm still driven by the ambition to achieve greatness (change the world, become famous, buy myself an island). We need to use our brains first to understand how wrong this motivation is, then to build great applications.

Edit: In my Python days I was a great admirerer of Jesse. The times he created the multiprocessing module. I hope he will get back on his feet.


I used to be one of the carried away people. Then I developed a really awesome relationship, and then I fell off of a bicycle and experienced a traumatic brain injury, and the lingering after effect of a head injury or a spinal cord injury is often chronic pain.

Luckily, I can still program. I didn't loose much mental capacity. But there's a thing in the chronic pain support community called the 'theory of spoons.' In short, you get a certain number of spoons when you wake up in the morning. Some days it's more, some days it's less. You give a spoon out for everything you do and every interaction you have. Most days, you'll run out of spoons midway through the day through normal interaction. But when you run out of spoons, you have nothing to stop yourself from just hurting. You don't have anything to give yourself to stop the pain, much less to give to anyone else to make them feel needed in the relationship you have, to make them feel valued at work, to make them feel happy or welcome to be in your home, to produce something awesome on your side project, to make a healthy dinner ... there just aren't enough spoons on any given day. But the worst part is that you end up in physical pain because you've given out all your spoons, and you know that the people around you are hurting emotionally because you don't have any spoons to give them.

Most people eventually learn to budget their spoons carefully. If you're SUPER cautious about it and you put many of your ambitions aside, you can get to a point where you still have a spoon left by the time you get home at night. But it means you're probably not going to be an astronaut, and you probably are very shallowly involved with your community, and you probably aren't going to leave much of a mark on the world outside of the people who love you. Recognizing that early in life is pretty important so that you do have people who love you.


> It's so easy to get carried away by enthusiasm, ambition, pride, fear ... it happens to most of us all the time. Luckily I belong to the people who run out of energy fast. Therefore I need to stop and break and make a reality check for myself regularly.

I recognize myself in the behavior that the writer describes. Going all-in on too many things, and all the negative consequences that result from that.

The feeling I felt as I read the article wasn't just recognition; it was envy. Because I am actually one of those people who run out of energy fast, my 'all-in' has not even resulted in a partner, kids, 'prominence' in any community, etc.

Basically, I am in much of the same place as the author, for the same reasons (to the degree that I can tell from one article, of course), except that I have nothing to show for it.

The best I can say about that, perhaps, is that by having less to 'show for it' I also have less to mess up or lose.

Small comfort.

Discovering that I also belong to the people that run out of energy fast, and that even operating at 'normal speed' can be disastrous for me in very particular contexts is a good thing though. If I learn to make these 'reality checks' regularly, I will most certainly be happier and more grounded, and in fact I'm pretty confident I'll even be able to 'achieve things' in the long run.

And that's a ray of hope, however small and however far off its source seems. Slow and steady wins the race, I think, applies very much to me.

My primary challenge is that I find it really, really difficult to 'make reality checks'. I have recently been diagnosed with (mild) autism, and apparently this inability is pretty typical.

How do you keep yourself from either going too much all-in, or hiding from the world too much, when much of the time you're barely aware of whether you're doing one or the other? How do you remind yourself to do a reality check when you forget about the reminder, because your brain is stuck on some random obsession?

Sometimes I feel that I live in a world that is fundamentally not suited to me. I don't think of eating unless someone else starts eating, but because I live alone in a big city with some flatmates I barely know, I am often not triggered. I don't think of leaving the house to socialize because there is no clear pattern or cohesive structure to my social world. It's all opt-in and based on personal initiative, mostly. I sometimes struggle doing work as a freelance developer, because my brain gets stuck in a loop and I just pace my room talking to myself. Or, the other way around, I work and work at the expense of everything else and end up in a pretty bad place because of this. It made me understand why weekends and vacations are important. If only I could remember this. I've tried for years.

I sometimes miss the period in my life where external structures provided me with a socialization pattern (student org.), where deadlines and tests forced me in some kind of rhythm, or, longer ago, where living with my family provided me with the triggers I need to engage in normal, healthy behavior (eat well, sleep regularly, get outside, talk to people, sit with people not talking, emotional 'cleanup' by talking to parents/siblings, etc).

Sorry about this reply getting off track. It sort of got away from me...


I'm someone who only has limited amounts of energy (as in, sustained hard thought and focus), combined with a tendency to get hung up on briefly fascinating, but ultimately irrelevant details. My approach to making progress on projects is to keep a very short list of things that I think I really can make progress on, along with a few footnotes about what imperfections to ignore, followed by a paragraph about why I think I can make progress on these items.

Then, on any day where circumstances are in my favor, I can look at the list, pick something, and start doing it. Or, if I disagree with the list, then the immediate task is to fix the list. Anything I no longer agree with, or don't have the means to pursue, is removed. It feels important to me that the list remains concise and focused.

I think that I'm now better at switching off, being able to do other things, being able to unwind, partly because the list gives me the confidence that I'll be able to pick things up again tomorrow, without needing to wear a furrow in my brain in the meantime.


Well said. The most industrious are those who live their lives by some form of checklist, and manage to at least check some of the items off. The only problem I have with checklists are those who obsessively try to achieve each task on the list and presuming each item is somehow not complete unless the others are completed.

A little known phrase that should be tattooed inside their skulls is "opportunity cost" which I learned from Mark Manson's blog, and it is a great phrase. Try to read "No you can't have it all".


One thing that I have started doing is planning out what I want to do in a day. Perhaps that could help you.


"I recognize myself in the behavior that the writer describes. Going all-in on too many things, and all the negative consequences that result from that."

It's addiction. :(


Considering that I struggled with, uh, 'self-medication' for quite a while, you might very well be right. Something to think about. Perhaps my cessation strategies can help with this too.


Ha. As I was reading the Carina announcement [1] yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see Jesse Noller as its author and I wondered to myself what happened to him. He was everywhere, couple of years back and I had no idea that you were going through pain.

As a fellow pythonista from far away land, thanks for everything you've done for python. And good to have you back.

[1]: https://getcarina.com/blog/announcing-carina/


Why doesn't OP move to Boston? If your daughters are the most important thing in your life, then moving across the US to be close to them seems like a no-brainer. One of the great thing about tech is that it's pretty easy to switch jobs/work remotely/branch off and do your own thing.

Maybe there were some reasons that couldn't be stated in the article, and maybe I'm being callous, if so, I apologize. Also, if OP was considering that but wanted to wait till he got a better grip on himself, that's fine too.


> Why doesn't OP move to Boston? If your daughters are the most important thing in your life, then moving across the US to be close to them seems like a no-brainer.

My (future ex-)wife is the same. She says she loves her 3 children more than anything, and she misses them when she's abroad for work, but still, she chooses not to be with them.

Either they love their work more than anything, but don't want to admit it, or they love their children but don't feel the need to be with them as much as any other person.

Maybe it was a mistake for such a person to have children.

Sorry if I sound too harsh, but being recently in the same situation, but on the other end, is pretty rough :(.


My (future ex-)wife is the same. She says she loves her 3 children more than anything, and she misses them when she's abroad for work, but still, she chooses not to be with them.

People are different. Lots of people get lengthy deployments on oil rigs, in the armed forces, or even high pressure international sales gigs - I don't think these folks love their kids any less than me.

I love my wife and kids loads, but I also love being away from them for brief periods of time (only up to a week in my job). It makes it so much better when I return. We are all wired up differently emotionally - absence truly does make the heart grow fonder in my case.



As the ex - He is in the process of healing, dealing with doctors, finding himself and probably in some ways, some of the physical distance might be good thing. What folks don't know is that we co-parent even from a distance. Yes the girls miss him. Miss his hugs, his close presence. However they understand that their Dad is still there for them. We have a good schedule to ensure that during extended breaks he gets to see them, either here or there.

One day we do hope he will come back here as this is where the girls have called home. However can remain patient and nonjudgmental until that time.


> One of the great thing about tech is that it's pretty easy to switch jobs/work remotely/branch off and do your own thing.

Really? I'm not sure this is really true (though it seems to be a popular HN trope). There may be jobs everywhere if you want to "disrupt online kitty litter sales" or if you want to work for "1/2 pay but KILLER equity after 4 years, bro!". However, is the market for normal, steady, secure tech employment really that healthy? As someone with a family and a mortgage, the number of companies I'd consider working for is shrinking day by day, and those companies are still very picky. I don't feel like it's even close to 1999 these days.

Is it really that easy to just go do your own thing? Where do you get your start-up capital? If "do your own thing" means be an independent contractor, where you you get your first client? Calling it easy is kind of a stretch.


I agree. But Boston is one of the few places where there are a decent number of such opportunities. Most of the big tech usual suspects have engineering offices there, and RedHat has an office there as well.


So I actually don't live in SV, and very much live outside the VC/SV hype train.

What I mean is that you have these options:

- Odesk (yes, it's terrible, but it's an option)

- Remote work (weworkremotely.com)

- Finding a single business in whatever town you're in that has a website, and wants it to be better, and is willing to pay you to do that

Also, when I mentioned doing your own thing, I meant bootstrapping something. Find some inefficiency either you know about, or something someone you know knows about, and charge people to solve it. While creating that service, you can work other jobs to pay bills, but again, the probability that you:

1) Actually make a successful business

2) Gain skills that enable you to remote work/do something else in the field

is wayyyyy higher than just about any other field (right now).

No matter where you are, the cost of starting an internet business is so much lower than a traditional one that even if 9/10 fail it might still be worth it.


And a reply from my ex (and good friend) whose account got flagged "dead" (dnoller13) to you:

As the ex - He is in the process of healing, dealing with doctors, finding himself and probably in some ways, some of the physical distance might be good thing. What folks don't know is that we co-parent even from a distance. Yes the girls miss him. Miss his hugs, his close presence. However they understand that their Dad is still there for them. We have a good schedule to ensure that during extended breaks he gets to see them, either here or there.

One day we do hope he will come back here as this is where the girls have called home. However can remain patient and nonjudgmental until that time.


Those comments were killed by a spam filter. Those are tuned more aggressively for new accounts. We marked dnoller13's account legit so it won't happen again.

In the meantime, HN users restored both of those comments by vouching for them. We added this feature recently: alongside 'flag', you will see a 'vouch' link if a comment is dead. If enough users click 'vouch', the comment is restored.


thank you


I got the impression that an unspoken subtext of Jesse's essay was that, in the community he's describing, people always think they have the right answer (instead of considering that being humane is more important than being seen as an expert - cue the guy calling him out about PyCon).

It looks like your comment does exactly that again.

So, although I think you meant well, your comment is indeed callous as I read it.


But is that advice less callous/from-the-internet-abyss if a therapist were to give it? (I am not a licensed therapist or anything).

I got the feeling from the article that it was more like someone sending a drive-by email along the lines of "wow this code is bad, I could have done it completely different, you're not even that good of python" after he submitted some patch that a less toxic person would have thanked him for or something.


Nooooooo - it wasn't a drive by email about a patch. It was rot from personalities and bad actors questioning every aspect of being part of a community, trying to push for change, lead, etc.

Luckily, I am in fact talking to a licensed therapist and they disagree with your assessment provided additional context and that's ok. The internet is a hard place for empathy.


It's always easy to say this sort of thing as an un-invested third party, but it's not super constructive. I'm sure Jesse considered it before choosing not to.


I can definitely see that it's not super constructive, but the article presented only two choices (and explained why neither were great), I found this choice conspicuously missing and wanted to ask, honestly hoping OP would read it...


Here you are valuing your desire to know something above the potential impact on him. It's thoughtless. Here the guy pours his heart out, and specifically writes:

> However, “community” is not the gift that keeps on giving, it is the gift that keeps on taking and taking and taking. If you don’t set clear and absolute boundaries, it will drain you dry and move on.

Your comment here is exactly that sort of taking.


Reading into it a little bit I think landing the Rackspace gig was a Really Big Deal. I know it would be for me.


Callous? Yes, no? I haven't finished the 3(!) followups to this, so by way of empathizing with your end-result (e.g. just move) with the information I also have I can say "it is not a binary choice".

Factor in the following: my ex and I are still best friends and confidants. As we went through this little slice of hell, what was best for our kids above what was best for us was top of mind.

Now, factor in the following: I've learned - the hard way - that investing yourself into certain things can net you things you didn't have. For example, without dumping all into the community, I wouldn't be where I am in my career, and I would not have discovered things about what I want to do in that career.

Now factor in what I described is the sign of an extremely obsessive, insecure, and potentially depressed personality with no actual definition of "self" outside of community, work, and kids. Literally - now that I've set boundaries I'm busy looking around saying "Uh. Shit. Who am I?"

Now factor in the strict clinical definition of what you go through in a divorce - it's akin to significant loss (e.g a death in the family). You go through (as I am) many stages of that including grief, depression, etc. I'm somewhere in the no man's land without an end in sight just as of yet.

Now factor in the severe anxiety and depression that comes with all of that. Yes - I could quit my job and move just to be near my girls. However not being physically or mentally fit outside of my definition of self in my career I would be throwing myself into a position of not "not moving on my own terms".

Think of it like this: I agreed, with my ex, that this would be the best course of action for now. Just up and moving wouldn't solve the root cause of why we separated, it would just solve one aspect of "me". This would result in a probable mis-directed resentment on my part towards my ex, my children and others.

Therefore, while given the information you gleaned you may be correct albeit callous, you are right that there are many more factors in a situation like this to be taken into account.

Net-net - mental health is hard. Recovery is hard - you can't tell a depressed person to "just don't be sad" and you can tell a person with an addiction (such as I've gone through) to just "give it up" without a goal, or a process by which to solve the root cause.


Thanks a lot for responding - it's clearly a rough time for you but I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my random internet comment.

I look forward to reading the followups! I can't say I totally understand (as probably no one can), but wish you the best overcoming this addiction, and getting back to your sense of "you".


I've been through this three times in my life, each time it hits me harder and harder, I'm going through it again right now in fact, my story could read almost identically to this one. I often wonder if it's the crux of ambition.

I'm not one for self help books or any of that bullshit, however, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell is an excellent read on this subject.

Finding your purpose is hard, really really hard, I firmly believe some never really do.


While I don't intend to be rude, not sure how else I could say this -- you're not ruining other people's lives all three times right? There are a lot of I's and my's in your comment which makes me wonder how much empathy you're employing...

Also, have you tried to stop? Has it occurred 3 times unintentionally and this article was the impetus you needed to make a change?

[EDIT] - lightened wording around the last few questions, comments have noted that I was being too coarse, and ironically unempathetic


> makes me wonder how much empathy you're employing... Also, do you... want to stop? Has it occurred 3 time unintentionally and you just can't stop?

You really don't see the irony in questioning his capacity for empathy while minimizing his hardships and suggesting they're likely all his fault?


Are any of the answers to those questions obvious upon reading the original comment? I asked because those points weren't clear when reading the original comment -- he notes it like it's a terrible thing but I was wondering how it could happen 3 times, when OP had it happen once and had so many undesirable things happen.

I must confess I haven't had something like this happen to me at this level, so maybe my capability of empathy is diminished, but the questions do not imply that it's entirely/likely his/her fault, outside of the fact that you generally can't get into a situation like this without some action on your part. This is precisely why OP is trying to take steps to change his behavior.

Maybe what I should have asked was: "Care to share more?" Without the pointed questions.


I'm sorry, tone is difficult over the internet I suppose. I presume you read my post as if I was whining, I genuinely wasn't. I've considered it many many times. Sometimes I think I should go work at a convenience store and just pick a simpler journey.

However, It's mostly positive, as I'm sure Jesse is finding out. I wouldn't trade anything, it's just hard, and that's that. Humbling, really. It's feeling like you've failed yet you've not begun.

I had the privilege of talking with Sean O'Sullivan for an hour or so recently, he coined the term we use today as "cloud". I explained how I felt, and my situation (as mentioned, similar to Jesse). He made a pointed observation about success. Often with success comes great failure, and it's in the failures that we have the learnings, that lead to success. I wrote a little about learning by doing: https://medium.com/love-etc/small-talk-795a6bc9b615#.kc8kopb... - Learning by doing requires failure. Recently, someone who I'll love eternally shut me out of their life because I prioritized my work over them for months and months and months, I didn't listen, I didn't act, but I did learn.

Frankly it seems most of us are not particularly vocal about our failings, maybe some of us are perfect.

All of the times I've failed it's been because of me, and every time I fail, I learn more about what it means to be: me.


It certainly is -- it's my fault, I should have phrased it better with that in mind.

Thanks a lot for the thoughtful reply -- wish you the best! As you've put it, it's certainly a journey (no way, don't pick a simpler one!), and it looks like you're ready to be in it for the long haul. 100% agree on your thoughts about success/failure and found your thoughts on smalltalk/education/love interesting.

I have a brother who is trying to learn programming and I wish I could infuse him with the spirit you've learned (I'm sure the hard way) to have. If only there was some way to consistently teach tenacity.


Thank you for your kindness. <3


Is love worth it?

Interacting with people, playing with children, etc. can be enjoyable activities. Not saying that we should withdraw from it, but as intelligent people can we take a step back and question love itself, especially as it causes so much pain?

Instead of loving and getting heart broken when the associated people depart from one's lives, why not simply enjoy the company of people (without love, trust and the concomitant sadness, resentment) and continue that enjoyment whenever alone time is in order (short-term or long-term)?

More curiously - why are people reluctant to question love itself? (it is always one person or the other's fault, but never love's fault; why?).


Feel free to question it -- but also realize that you may come up with the wrong answers.

I think it's wise (in most case) to defer to older generations when stuck with serious questions like these -- and I doubt you'll find an older person/person on their deathbed who would say something like "I wish I would have spent less time loving, trusting, and committing to others".

I get the feeling if you took the approach you'd describe, all you'd end up with are a bunch of loose acquaintance-like relationships, and nothing deeper. Generally the realization that all your relationships are shallow is what triggers people to seek out deeper relationships, which need/require love/trust/commitment. Also, even if you were able to become completely content with nothing but shallow relations, good luck not regretting it/wondering if life could have been something more.


> Feel free to question it -- but also realize that you may come up with the wrong answers.

Which is why sincerity is essential.

> I think it's wise (in most case) to defer to older generations when stuck with serious questions like these -- and I doubt you'll find an older person/person on their deathbed who would say something like "I wish I would have spent less time loving, trusting, and committing to others".

The older generation are no better than us in regards to enjoying life without sadness, loneliness, and so on ... and as such are not a reliable source to draw inspiration from.

> I get the feeling if you took the approach you'd describe, all you'd end up with are [...] relationships, and nothing deeper. [...] shallow is what triggers people to seek out deeper relationships, which need/require love/trust/commitment). [...] shallow [...] regretting [...] something more.

Words like "relationship" or "deeper" and "shallow" and "regretting" and "something more" are indicative of love in operation ... and questioning love means questioning those associated beliefs as well. Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet? Why not question the need to relate? If the ability to relate vanishes, what happens to loneliness itself?


> Which is why sincerity is essential.

True, but you don't get to turn back time and choose a different option if the answer you pick is wrong, no matter how sincere you are.

> The older generation are no better than us in regards to enjoying life without sadness, loneliness, and so on ... and as such are not a reliable source to draw inspiration from.

Right, but what they do have that you do not is experience. Maybe the most balanced comparison would be between an older person that followed the strategy you proposed, and one that didn't. Either way, the only chance you've got at making an informed decision with regards to EOL (which is essentially end-of-experiment), is by consulting with those who have experience, right?

> Words like "relationship" or "deeper" and "shallow" and "regretting" and "something more" are indicative of love in operation ... and questioning love means questioning those associated beliefs as well. Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet? Why not question the need to relate? If the ability to relate vanishes, what happens to loneliness itself?

If that's true then wouldn't "enjoying company" be indicative of love in operation? If you removed the ability to relate to another human, how could you possibly enjoy being in the presence/interacting with another human? Do you have any examples of a being/thing you couldn't relate to that you enjoyed interacting with?


> Which is why sincerity is essential. True, but you don't get to turn back time and choose a different option if the answer you pick is wrong, no matter how sincere you are.

Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. Questioning love = paying sincere attention to one's own feelings as they go about their daily life without necessarily changing the conditions of it (such as quitting one's family and eagerly trekking to the East for some meditative drug experience), and asking oneself why one is not having fun (if one is indeed not having fun).

> Right, but what they do have that you do not is experience. [...] the only chance you've got at making an informed decision with regards to EOL (which is essentially end-of-experiment), is by consulting with those who have experience, right?

My intent is in regards to leading an enjoyable life and not making informed decisions (to whatever factor) per se. Reading biographies of people of older generation, or looking at sociological or anthropological studies sufficiently demonstrate that the older generation are no better than us in regards to enjoying life without sadness, loneliness, and so on (to the contrary, they often held love as a sacrosanct and consequently suffered its shortcomings) ... and as such are not a reliable source to draw inspiration from.

> wouldn't "enjoying company" be indicative of love in operation?

Do you have memories of having fun playing in the school playground, or at a carnival, as a child?

> If you removed the ability to relate to another human, how could you possibly enjoy being in the presence/interacting with another human? Do you have any examples of a being/thing you couldn't relate to that you enjoyed interacting with?

Yes, I have childhood memories of having fun playing with fellow children, and as far as I can remember it required little "relating". Lately as an adult in early 30s I do occasionally experience (mostly as an unintentional result of near-constant awareness of deeper feelings) such spontaneous moments of having fun with people, or on my own, which leads to the increased confidence that life can indeed be better without love.


> The older generation are no better than us in regards to enjoying life without sadness, loneliness, and so on ... and as such are not a reliable source to draw inspiration from.

I think half of this statement is true. Yes, the older generation is no better than we are at living well. They're just as likely to make mistakes. However, that's the beauty of experience - you make mistakes, and you learn from them. Experience is the best teacher, in any field. You're dismissing out of hand the best resource we have to living better lives - the accrued experience of our older generations. That just seems foolish to me.

> Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet?

The fact that you're posting this question on a message board for other people to read,comment on, and interact with suggests that you don't believe the things you're saying.


> You're dismissing out of hand the best resource we have to living better lives - the accrued experience of our older generations. That just seems foolish to me.

Except I'm not talking about "living better lives." The "better lives" wisdom of older generation usually means "make the best of it [with love, of course]."

Whereas I'm talking about questioning love itself. What is life like without love and the associated feelings/beliefs? I'm interested in a perfect live; a life full of enjoyment - and the older generations have nothing to offer in that regard (to the contrary, they favour love and as such tacitly prevent any questioning into it).

>> Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet?

> The fact that you're posting this question on a message board for other people to read,comment on, and interact with suggests that you don't believe the things you're saying.

The word "relate" is used in its affective context, stemming from hardwaresofton's use of shallow/ deeper relationships. Thus for clarity I'd rephrase that question as: Why is it necessary to feel a relationship/ connection/ bond with fellow humans when they are already here on this planet?

I'm quite, if not fully, confident that love is a hindrance.


I believe humans (and possibly other mammals) wouldn't have made it throughout our evolution without love. Look at how helpless humans are for at least the first 8 years of life. That's 8 summers and 8 winters. There are many many opportunities for parents to move on and say, "This is taking too much of my time and energy, I want to do something more enjoyable."

I think this is one thing that older generations have context for that younger ones (before becoming parents) can simply be unaware of. I know, I became a parent within the last year and it has changed my thinking on many things.

Even if we tried to live a life without love, I don't know that it's possible. Individually perhaps, but not as a strategy to have the human species continue to go forward. Empathy is something that healthy brains do naturally, and is really useful to keep a tribe or a society going (could even be required). This goes back to keeping children alive; when parents can't or won't, the tribe steps in.

Perhaps the modern world can make love obsolete; I hope that isn't the case. I think our minds have evolved to live in a pre-modern era. Until we fundamentally change our biochemistry, I'm pretty sure we'll have to make do with it (along with it being a hindrance).


>Experience is the best teacher, in any field.

Global thermonuclear warfare.


>Experience is the best teacher, in any field.


> I think it's wise (in most case) to defer to older generations when stuck with serious questions like these -- and I doubt you'll find an older person/person on their deathbed who would say something like "I wish I would have spent less time loving, trusting, and committing to others".

This might make intuitive sense for many. But people aren't really good at empathy towards their earlier or future selves. People generally wish their past selves had worked and suffered more to make their present self better off. IOW made tradeoffs that would benefit your present self at the expense of your past self. A person on their deathbed will appreciate archievement and richness of experience in their past life disproportionately in relation to comfort, balanced life etc.

For some excellent insights about cognitive biases people have in thinking about their happiness, read this book: https://www.randomhouse.com/kvpa/gilbert/

(This is not to recommend you shy away from love or trust or commitment! Just a methodology point.)


> I think it's wise (in most case) to defer to older generations when stuck with serious questions like these -- and I doubt you'll find an older person/person on their deathbed who would say something like "I wish I would have spent less time loving, trusting, and committing to others".

It depends. From reading random biographies and quotes of famous people, it seems to me that the people we (as a society) most admire were the ones who had success in things bigger than just their relationships. Yes, they often regret screwing up the latter, but then again people tend to regret the things they didn't get right. People who had successful family life tend to regret missed opportunities, etc.

That perspective may change in me as I grow older, and it's probably also a product of my particular upbringing, but looking into myself now I feel like I would be disappointed with life focused on finding True Love, starting a family and dying a grandfather. It feels so... empty. Focusing just on yourself, on your family, when there are billions of people all around you, the whole humanity on this great planet. A grand possible future and so many problems on the road to it.

I know I would like to die knowing I helped everyone as much as I could, that my life had a positive impact on the development of human race. True Love would be a cool addition to that. And I would also like to see space at least once. But more than happy family life I would like to die knowing that some strangers, who don't even know me, are happier because I was here.


This is a highly personal decision, so this is just my 2c. Yes. Its the only thing worth anything.

Nothing in this world is stable. Your boss will fire you if you cant perform. Your friends may move away or change. Some will try to use you, but even the best ones will never care about you the way your partner will. Its an anchor in the storm of life.

There are probably many many authors who can wax poetic about this stuff better than me though, so I'll stop now.


Neither is love stable, as this very post shows.

> There are probably many many authors who can wax poetic about this stuff better than me though, so I'll stop now.

Yes ... all those sad love songs come to my mind. Why do we cling to sadness instead of simply enjoying life?


"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." :) Its really a matter of faith whether you believe that or not, so i wont offer any argument other than to say i mostly believe it, and most peoples actions would show they believe it too.

I guess it ultimately comes down to a persons belief systems and emotions at that point, far beyond the reach of mere logical arguments. We are animals first, thinking human beings second (this is the topic of one my favorite songs, Apeman- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRHqs8SffDo)


Because we're not Vulcans?

People just love, it's a thing that human animals do. Questioning love is like questioning your elbows, or that you sneeze. It's part of being human.


You can "question" your emotions, though there's a better term for it: self-reflection. It's necessary in order to build Emotional Intelligence.


By polarizing your options -- making the "software" feeling of love as factual as the "hardware" bodily part, and equating the absence of love to an imagined sci-fi notion (an apparently emotionless being) -- you have effectively shutdown any inquiry into love itself.


Note that Vulcans from Star Trek universe actually felt emotions - they experienced them so strongly that it pushed them into perpetual state of savagery; they lifted themselves up as a civilization when they learned a philosophy and a training regimen that let them grab complete control over their emotions and keep them in check.


Ok.

> grab complete control over their emotions and keep them in check

This is what is wrong with the concept of Vulcans (when applied to human goals). Controlling emotions and keeping them in check (which is what most healthy normal humans already do to various extent anyway) is not the same as having them not arise in the first place.


> Is love worth it?

That's up to you. Nobody can force you to love them, and you can always choose to walk away from potential loves.

Most of the replies to your post seem to be telling you that love is worth it. I think that is overly simplistic - we are not all the same. Some people find love, some don't. Some people who do find it, make it last, some don't. Some people who do find it resent it, some people who don't find it resent not having found it.

I don't think one size fits all, and I think people should try to make choices that fulfil them, whether that means prioritising work, or friends or family or exploration or wine tasting.

In particular, to those who suggest that love is an evolutionary advantage, I partially disagree. Or at least I think that is simply one facet of our species - one of our key strengths is diversity of being. We have the people who must go out and explore and discover. We have the people who must stay home and build families and societies. Only by having all of these things have we been able to expand across the planet and achieve everything we have. If everyone chose love over work, there are lots of things we wouldn't have invented/discovered. If everyone chose work over love, we'd be a much smaller species, etc, etc.


Although humans are diverse in regards to lifestyle preferences - deep down we are one and the same (living the human condition) where love and, its opposite, hate (and all the concomitant superficial beliefs/ identities/ feelings) are common experiences.

Also, the feeling of love (be it romantic or filial or whatever) doesn't last, and is not stable; people who profess that are usually the ones who have arrived at some kind of compromise. Right in this very thread you will find someone who redefined love to be an "act."

Above all, no matter what one's lifestyle preference is - love hurts. So why the reluctance to question love itself? Why the continued investment in boasting the superiority of love (all that sad love songs have a tinge of sanctimony to them)?


Love can hurt, that's true. But so can everything else we invest in, no? It's for you to decide if that's "above all" or just the natural way of "things being".


My partner cKaye and I are both part of Python and we've been considering these questions a lot lately.

In short: I don't think it's reasonable to treat love as though it were an emotion. Love is an act. Practice it. Do it. Do it well and with joy. But don't treat it like it's the same thing as happiness; it isn't.


> My partner cKaye and I are both part of Python and we've been considering these questions a lot lately.

It is great to have a partner that contemplates these matters!

> In short: I don't think it's reasonable to treat love as though it were an emotion.

Love is most certainly a feeling. Just for the sake of clarity, here is the dictionary definition:

[quote] 1 an intense feeling of deep affection: babies fill parents with intense feelings of love | their love for their country. • a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone: it was love at first sight | they were both in love with her | we were slowly falling in love. • (Love)a personified figure of love, often represented as Cupid. • a great interest and pleasure in something: his love for football | we share a love of music. • affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one's behalf. • a formula for ending an affectionate letter: take care, lots of love, Judy. [/quote]

The key words in that definition are "feeling", "attachment", "affectionate".

> Love is an act. Practice it. Do it. Do it well and with joy. But don't treat it like it's the same thing as happiness; it isn't.

If love is a feeling, what is the nature of this act that you practice well with joy? If love, or the act, is not happiness - why feel/practice it in the first place?

What about joie de vivre ("a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.")?


Looking up love in the dictionary is useless. You're stuck in language.


> Looking up love in the dictionary is useless.

Establishing the agreed-upon definition for words used in communication is a sensible thing. Otherwise everybody is free to interpret things however they want (such as my correspondent, jMyles, treating love as an "act") leading to communication being rendered ineffective.

> You're stuck in language.

No (language is merely a tool; it is not possible to be "stuck" on it unless you have an emotional hold). However it would seem that as you find establishing the agreed-upon definition to be useless it may well be the case that you are stuck in less useful one-liner responses (especially going by your comment history).


You don't understand. You're actually stuck. You can't see it because you're stuck. If you find yourself grabbing a dictionary because you need to establish with your "correspondent" that you're talking about the same thing when you say "love", you have a problem.


> You don't understand. You're actually stuck. You can't see it because you're stuck.

As it is not possible to be "stuck" on language (which is but a tool) unless one has an emotional hold, and as you are not privy to my every thought/feeling day in and day out (other than what I convey via explicit communication), the word of the day after reading your nonsensical pithy assertions is: fatuous. Here it is, fully defined, for the sake of clarity:

fatuous |ˈfaCHo͞oəs| adjective silly and pointless: a fatuous comment.

> If you find yourself grabbing a dictionary because you need to establish with your "correspondent" that you're talking about the same thing when you say "love", you have a problem.

Quite the contrary; the very fact that you have vested interest in maintaining nebulous communication (via redefining words to suite one's fancy, such as my correspondent above treating such a deeper feeling of love to be an act, thereby invalidating the sensible investigations around it) indicates to me that all the problem is being projected from the other side.

One of the many benefits of paying sincere attention to one's feelings is that it makes it very easy to sift through what is one's own feeling versus what is being projected by others. You will have a hard time performing your modus-operandi with me.


I think that your comments are mean and inconsiderate.

I agree that appealing to the authority of Webster on the question, "what is love?" is capricious and demeaning.

To reconstruct my point, I meant that, for example, when you say, "I love you," make 'love' a verb in the present tense in your mind. Love willingness and with abandon.

Notice, by the by, that the way that we use the word "love" in casual conversation is often as a verb, not a noun. You never say, "I happiness you" <=- that syntax doesn't make sense for a feeling. And love isn't one.

I submit that the impetus to misconstrue a beautiful act as an emotion is mostly a commercial one.


> I think that your comments are mean and inconsiderate. I agree that appealing to the authority of Webster on the question, "what is love?" is capricious and demeaning.

Does it have this to be this complicated for you? I have been being as considerate as I can of human suffering while engaging with my fellow humans being here asking them why they are so reluctant to question an emotion/feeling that brings so much pain, as is evident from Jesse's post, all throughout human history.

Most people have no qualms with seeing love as a feeling, especially while they mourn in the death bed of their love one, or grief over the loss/rejection of their love object. These feelings are real; they are not merely "thoughts" or "acts". Suffering is a feeling experience.

When you redefine such a core emotion/feeling to be an act, it renders all conversation around it void. From here then there are only two courses of actions: cease conversing, or establish a common ground of understanding before proceeding. I find it somewhat odd that you seem to grasp that a "feeling is not the word itself" (implied from the linked YouTube video) and yet have trouble seeing a feeling as ... a feeling.

Feelings are not thoughts. Feelings are not behavioural acts.

I experienced no "sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behaviour" (which is what capricious means) or intended to demean anyone - as my responses have been no more than a simple pointing out of the above fact.

On the other hand I have random strangers on the internet making uncivil and pretentious remarks such as "You don't understand. You're actually stuck. You can't see it because you're stuck." ... all because I question a cherished feeling?

> To reconstruct my point, I meant that, for example, when you say, "I love you," make 'love' a verb in the present tense in your mind. Love willingness and with abandon. Notice, by the by, that the way that we use the word "love" in casual conversation is often as a verb, not a noun. You never say, "I happiness you" <=- that syntax doesn't make sense for a feeling. And love isn't one. I submit that the impetus to misconstrue a beautiful act as an emotion is mostly a commercial one.

Have you not ever felt, for example, affection (a gentle feeling of fondness or liking) towards someone without necessarily involving any behavioural act or thought? Have you not ever grieved over the loss of someone you loved?


I seem to remember a discussion about this exact phenomenon...

Right! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgXlHWF3_Go


I question love, and I'm not yet willing to even share those musings... probably because it is equivalent to such concepts as hope and happiness. And those are among the deepest, core, precepts on what we should be striving for.

There is nothing wrong with them per se. What I feel is wrong is our perceptions and expectations of them. Then, to add fuel to the fire, people benchmark their lives based on how much of these "resources" they have.

People can't even show respect for the dignity of other people and allow them to be themselves. To do so makes many people feel that they are invalidated in life as they so obsessively struggle at a breakneck speed to secure their sense of self-worth.

Even something as daring to be big is such a huge problem. Look at entrepreneurs and think about all the arguments presented about what it takes to be a successful one. How many are portrayed as "eccentric".

So imagine trying to question something like love... it's like questioning a religion, only much worse...


I'd encourage you to question further.

Questioning love is not the same as blaming it. There is no right or wrong in the realm of animalistic feelings; no matter how much of a good perception/expectation you have of the underlying feelings of love, it ends up in dissapointment one way or the other. Why is this underlying feeling considered sacrosanct? If we can question religion, surely it is time to question the sacrosanct feelings?


Human are made to interact one each other, love and enjoy life. Even if you feel alone sometimes because you might do not have someone that can understand you, you should try finding a person to love. Also love is the best feeling you can have.


> Is love worth it?

Yes. So is family, friends, ...

> Instead of loving and getting heart broken when the associated people depart from one's lives

I think to experience the joy of it, you have to fall in love, that means being exposed and risking getting hurt. It's the other side of the coin so to speak.

> why are people reluctant to question love itself? (it is always one person or the other's fault, but never love's fault; why?).

Because it is boring, I think. Talking about love is boring, experiencing it is exiting.

Pick something you really enjoy, maybe a favorite food. Analyzing it and talking about its ingredients is boring. Tasting it is where it's at.


I'm not asking to talk about love, or philosophize about love, or arrive at logical arguments. Not at all.

Questioning love = paying attention to your own feelings, and questioning their validity. Why do children seem to be having innocent fun until puberty sets in after which the now-adult human forgets all about that childhood joie de vivre (a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit) and sets about to religiously believing in a second-rate life (a pathetic cocktail of joy and hurt) centered on love?


> Why do children seem to be having innocent fun until puberty sets in after which the now-adult human forgets all about that childhood joie de vivre

Because it is the typical path of being a human being. If adults were going around having innocent fun after puberty there wouldn't be human beings now.

> (a pathetic cocktail of joy and hurt) centered on love?

It is different and personal of course. But I wouldn't want to live a life that didn't have that. It would boring and un-exciting.

> now-adult human forgets all about that childhood joie de vivre (a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit)

Not all is lost ;-) you can still find that when you have your own children! When I play with my kid, I am a kid again. We make paper airplanes, play with dolls, play tag and so on.

And I belive you get one more chance, when your children have their children!

I think depending on the perspective life can be very exciting (but even writing that in words sounds trite and boring).


Introspection is good. But what introspective observation led you to conclude that love = "a second-rate life" and "pathetic"? If you arrived at this conclusion by "paying attention to your own feelings", this should logically be applicable to yourself, and the specific circumstance. You in another decade may feel differently, and any other person will of course have different value judgements and desires. Besides, joie de vivre vs. love is a false dichotomy.


> Introspection is good. But what introspective observation led you to conclude that love = "a second-rate life" and "pathetic"? If you arrived at this conclusion by "paying attention to your own feelings", this should logically be applicable to yourself, and the specific circumstance.

My confidence about love's failures comes from not only my own feelings, but also observing others.

> You in another decade may feel differently, and any other person will of course have different value judgements and desires.

I'm yet to come across someone who have demonstrated that love works ... and by "work" I mean it being an one-hundred percent fun way to go about life.


Love isn't a life methodology, it's not "a way to go about life", you don't use it to live a better life the same way you use a jacket to be warmer.

Love is something that happens during life, it's part of it, inside it.


Yes, I have often wondered the same thing, but I think there is a rational explanation. Over evolutionary timescales, the human groups who put more social pressure on having lots of kids and raising them carefully were ultimately more prolific. So, the genes that encouraged these social norms were selected and later, the notion of "love" became heavily intertwined with the amount of care someone gave to their spouse and family. Additionally, having kids is one of the very few major life decisions that cannot be undone and requires a huge amount of effort from the parents. Folks who honestly regret having kids experience a lot of cognitive dissonance since they necessarily committed a large part of their lives to the endeavor, and to admit it was a mistake would be admitting a huge personal error. It's emotionally easier to insist that loving a family is the most important thing a person can do in his/her life, because realizing it's just evolutionary mechanics causes even more discomfort. Questioning the importance of love leads a pathway to cognitive dissonance, so is avoided because of the consequences of that realization. I always assume that the people who talk about the importance of family are mostly trying to convince themselves, as with much rhetoric. But of course, I'm now arguing against, so what does that say about me?


It sounds like you'd be interested in reading about the Buddha's teachings about attachment and suffering.


I see you already have a lot of responses, but personally, I am by default suspicious/hesitent of indulging in love, yet I regret most of the times I haven't. I feel like love colors the world and our experiences to be more vibrant and meaningful than otherwise.


> I see you already have a lot of responses,

Yes, and it is quite evident that people are reluctant to question love.

> but personally, I am by default suspicious/hesitent of indulging in love, yet I regret most of the times I haven't.

Being suspicious/ hesitant of love is not quite the same thing as sincerely paying attention to it as and when it arises. Being suspicious/ hesitant is, at its core, a fear reaction (freeze-flight response) - and leads to withdrawal, albeit with desire suppressed deep down until it re-appears as regret.

> I feel like love colors the world and our experiences to be more vibrant and meaningful than otherwise.

Like a drug, when love wears off it makes the world appear "boring" and "unexciting" and "[less] vibrant" and "[less] meaningful". Art is often an exemplification of these withdrawal symptoms.


> Interacting with people, playing with children, etc. can be enjoyable activities.

When you put it like that, it sounds more like a hobby. It's not worth it to "fall in love" if those are your primary goals.

> enjoy the company of people (without love, trust and the concomitant sadness, resentment)

Without mutual trust, you can't have much interaction beyond small-talk. (Yes, even purely intellectual discussions require it, especially once there's disagreement.)

Don't go for "love", as portrayed in mainstream media. Go for understanding the other, particularly when it feels hard to do so.


I have childhood memories of playing with fellow children and immensely enjoying it. And it is not uncommon to experience similar level of fun in adulthood either (this is far from being doing small-talks). None of this required trust or love. On the contrary, when love/trust and their associated feelings had to play any part at all, things become a little more serious.

Generally speaking when I am having fun, life is very very easy.


How do you know it didn't require trust or love? It's just that when we are younger "trust" is much easier to happen.

Don't you have memories of not having fun with some fellow child because you did not "trust" him/her?


> Is love worth it?

As opposed to what? The question's very similar to "is humanity even worth saving?" which has the same response.

(But I'm looking forward to maybe making it to the time when we can arbitrarily rewrite and explore permutations of our mind architecture. I'd predict transhumans will find something much more worthwhile than love as understood by the best of us normal humans.)


Humans are social animals, and there's some part us that crave companionship and love. We could probably try and rationalize it and make a pro/con table out of love, but at the end of the day biological factors kick in, and there's only so much your thinking brain can do to control it.


All I'm asking is: why are we reluctant to question it? Just question it. Not rationalize or control it (you can't, as the deeper feelings are way too powerful).

Decades ago it was considered normal to kill and get killed in a duel.


Many people have priorities beyond romantic love. A sense of accomplishment or a sense of ethics can often be more important at times.


I think that's the point of GP's question. Try to admit to those priorities and you'll be told you're going to waste your life, that you should go and find your True Love instead. Our society seems to be focused on (romantic) love as the meaning of life.


I am not sure about which society you are talking about; the one I live in considers personal success to be much more important than "love".


Personally, I just want to know what love is.


If you, for example, ever been madly in love with a person to the point of obsessing about them, and feeling 'heart ache' over their absence ... if you have ever had to mourn the death of a loved one, or their parting away ... pay attention to how you feel at that very moment. It really is that simple; no need to philosophize over something that basic.

It doesn't even have to be a strong emotional event; you can find various points in Jesse's posts that are indicative of love, such as the "dull ache":

> Each time I see a happy couple talking in a coffee shop or a “normal family” playing, it feels like a dull ache.


I'm touching several topics in this wall. First, why can't we simply enjoy the company of others without trust, and with the expectation that it will end at any time. Second, why is love worth the heartbreak? Third, why do people never blame love itself?

First, why is a trust based, long-term commitment of love good?

People, generally speaking, like stability. It's why we make commitments. Commitment is good for society, and without it we wouldn't be able to make plans. I think it's difficult for people to "just enjoy the company of people" because if you do that without expecting them to stick around, you're living on the edge of chaos.

How can I run a business if I don't trust that my employees will show up for work? How can I play tennis on Thursdays if I don't trust the other club members to be there? How can a child survive if her parents aren't committed to feeding her?

The feelings of love, are there to help bind us to our commitments.

Really, "love" is too broad a term, so let's be more specific and look at romantic relationships e.g. marriage.

Traditionally, your marriage should be the most stable relationship you have in your life. It is a commitment between two people to support each other emotionally, to raise children together, to share finances, and live domestically. This is highly beneficial, as it makes it so you don't have to worry about as much stuff, because you can divide the labour between two people. I watch the kids, while she gets groceries. She pays the bills while I'm at work, she massages my back, after I make supper etc. Marriage is a serious commitment, the kind of commitment you don't make with just anybody.

Marriage, and indeed love in many other forms, is an exceptionally practical thing. It might be fair to speculate that humans evolved to seek out a love relationship because having a stable family is just so practical. Some research suggests married couples live longer, which might be because of the practical benefits of stability and splitting the work, thus reducing stress and increasing productivity.

If you want to live without marriage or "love" then go right ahead, but if that research is true than life will probably be harder.

As for heart break...well it makes sense. Because marriage is so practical, losing that relationship will make life harder, so we don't want to do that. Sure you can find another relationship, but that takes time and effort, and it means having to build another relationship. As an analogy, I will be sad if my house burns down because all the time and money I spent in building and filling the house is gone, and I must start again. Sure, there's opportunity there as well, but it doesn't lessen the loss.

Feeling negative emotions isn't a bad thing either, it's part of what makes us human, and avoiding love because you want to avoid pain is honestly absurd.

As for "why is it never love's fault?"

Well love isn't a thing. You can't go out in the world and find love, because love doesn't exist without people. Love is an adjective that can be used to succinctly describe two peoples feelings towards each other, and those feelings they have are a result of their actions. People make love (whether sexual or not) through their actions. If a marriage falls apart it's because one person stops loving the other, not because Cupid decided to go get his arrows.


Wow, super depressing. Don't forget that there's more to this life than writing code, folks.


Like what?


If you're asking that legitimately, not sarcastically, I'm sure we can help you out. :)


Indulge me.


> No, I'm attempting to prove a point. Indulge me.

No thanks. I was asking genuinely.


Are you joking?


No, I'm attempting to prove a point. Indulge me.


There are many different pursuits that people enjoy, human endeavour is a wide and varied domain. I could tell you what I enjoy, but I doubt that'll give you the answer you're looking for, only you can ever know what you enjoy.

However, as you asked me to indulge you, here are a number of non-electronics-based activities that I enjoy: dancing, singing, cycling, sailing, swimming, writing, thinking, stargazing, kissing, playing guitar, watching a campfire, spending time at the seaside. I can go on if you want.


Thanks for indulging me.

Writing code fits nicely in that list of activities that you enjoy. These are all fine activities. Is there more to life than doing activities that you enjoy?

The comment I responded to said: "Don't forget that there's more to this life than writing code, folks."

If "writing code" represents "doing activities that you enjoy" then what else is there to life?

Life is inherently meaningless, and it's up to us to decide what our lives mean. If someone decides that writing code is what gives their life meaning, then who are you to tell them they are incorrect?


> "If "writing code" represents "doing activities that you enjoy" then what else is there to life?"

Writing code is just one activity that it's possible to enjoy. If that's the only thing that someone enjoys then fair enough, but how would someone know it's all they enjoy without trying other things out?

> "Life is inherently meaningless, and it's up to us to decide what our lives mean."

Yes, we can decide what we want to make of our lives, and whilst this idea can be a bit overwhelming at first, if you can get over that it can feel liberating.

I'd also add that that life doesn't have to have a meaning to be worthwhile. Searching for meaning can take our focus away from experience. This story from Margaret Mead helped me understand that:

"Last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a laboratory with Dr. Boas and he was talking to me and a group of other people about religion, insisting that life must have a meaning, that man couldn’t live without that. Then he made a mass of jelly-like stuff of the most beautiful blue I had ever seen — and he seemed to be asking us all what to do with it. I remember thinking it was very beautiful but wondering helplessly what it was for. People came and went making absurd suggestions. Somehow Dr. Boas tried to carry them out — but always the people went away angry, or disappointed — and finally after we’d been up all night they had all disappeared and there were just the two of us. He looked at me and said, appealingly “Touch it.” I took some of the astonishingly blue beauty in my hand, and felt with a great thrill that it was living matter. I said “Why it’s life — and that’s enough” — and he looked so pleased that I had found the answer — and said yes “It’s life and that is wonder enough.”"

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/02/25/margaret-mead-meani...


Not sure what point you could be attempting to prove? That there is nothing more meaningful in this world than writing code?


Thanks to Jesse for having the courage to share this. Long and protracted arguments online can give your mental fatigue in a way that in-person ones cannot. The fact that this can happen to such a prolific Python contributor is probably a great reminder for me to step away from the keyboard more often.

In fact, I think I'll do that right now :)


For anyone who's into Constructive Developmental Theory (In Over Our Heads, by Kegan), this is a classic case of why people go through the "adult"-ing process of generalizing over relationships. Being all-in emotionally, being unable to prioritize work and family and personal ambition, not having values that he's proud of, not setting boundaries - it's all part of a bigger problem that so many people are going through. Emotional maturity and personal grown doesn't stop being important when you turn 18 or 22 or even 30.


Or even 40; I assume even 50 and beyond, but I haven't been there yet. If we stop growing, we start dying.


Most useful takeaway from this post:

> Just saying things “will be ok” isn’t enough, I’ve got to start making things better.


For God's sake, man, move to your kids. Jobs are everywhere.


Hi Jesse, I'm Aryeh. Perhaps one place to start is to forgive yourself and start afresh. Consider the past over, finished and done. A new "you" if you will, not the one you were before.

All that matters now is what you "DO", not what you think or believe. Smile, don't judge others, do what is good and right, and say only good things of others. This is the human challenge and journey.

If you want, say "hi" to me at aryehof at gmail anytime!


Wow. That is an intensely personal, and really thought provoking, post. I happen to be going through something startlingly similar, so this hit home pretty thoroughly.

I wonder if this is more common in our industry than in others. It feels like it is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in tech and, as Jesse noted, it seems like it is happy to take everything you're willing to give.


Great thought provoking read. Did you say "Hi" to anyone in the coffee shop?


Many people often try to optimise for the world view of themselves, rather than their own experience.

Instead, when one starts to optimise for ones own experience, the idea of falling short of expectations doesn't arise.

Life is lived in ones own experience and each person to himself is the most important entity. Going through mental suffering is very hard, unnecessary and I hope everyone that does go through it, comes out of it.

I wonder if this is the same Jesse I knew of. So much energy, so much capability to do so many things.


Yeah, as others have said: thanks for everything Jesse. I regret that it took this outpouring - which is wonderful and important and super brave of you - for us all to remember to say thanks.

I told a story at PyCon 2014 Storytelling about a job that I did over the course of 6 months wherein the client was a bit abusive and I brought it home and destroyed a relationship with a really cool lover.

It's really good for us all to seriously talk about this stuff.

Hope to see you in Portland buddy.


Something that's never taught is how to deal with emotions in constructive ways. At least, I don't know who I was supposed to learn it from. I think a lot of us carry emotional turmoil with us that boils over in unrelated situations.


Success isn't what it looks like. Meaning, the image of success is not true success (personally meaningful success), and true personally meaningful success doesn't look like the oft-projected successful image.

It takes real effort to figure that stuff out.


Wow. This was touching and very intense. As a student, this definitely goes into my diary for the future.


"Jesse" not "Jeese"


and known, not know.


And "Python", not "python".


Yep, thanks, all fixed ! Surprising how many mistakes one can make in a simple sentence...although, as feeble justification -- I wrote that right after I read the article and was still thinking about some of the stuff. There was a bit of irony though in these corrections -- how we tend to focus on and willing choose to spend energy on the things that don't matter in the long run for things that make us feel good about ourselves.


the things that don't matter in the long run

Not just the long run! It looks like 'dang' already rewrote it to get rid of all of those words. But at least I'll sleep easier knowing that as a team we were able to fix the mistakes before it was erased. :)


Ouch! You're correct, it's probably the last article I should be nitpicking on.


[flagged]


We detached this ugly personal smear from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10469355 and marked it off-topic.

This is the sort of thing we ban accounts for, so please see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10473839 and make sure it doesn't happen in the future.


This is beautiful, truly thank you for your judgement.

While it is none of anyone's business. This was an AMICABLE decision both Jesse and I came to. MA is the girls home. We moved to TX as a thought things could get better, new job that was supposed to give us our life together back. The girls wanted to be home, near family, near friends so they could heal. Jesse saw their pain and mine.. I suppose caring for children and doing what they need is selfish. Then I am very selfish to give my children what they need.

This context-missing statement is the epitome of what Jesse always despised about the internet.


From my ex, and good friend whose account got mod-flagged for unknown reasons:

"" This is beautiful, truly thank you for your judgement.

While it is none of anyone's business. This was an AMICABLE decision both Jesse and I came to. MA is the girls home. We moved to TX as a thought things could get better, new job that was supposed to give us our life together back. The girls wanted to be home, near family, near friends so they could heal. Jesse saw their pain and mine.. I suppose caring for children and doing what they need is selfish. Then I am very selfish to give my children what they need.

This context-missing statement is the epitome of what Jesse always despised about the internet.""


Since the context was missing, don't take it so personal. It wasn't clear that the kids originally grew up in that far away place. All I said is "it sounds xyz", it's not an eternal judgment.


> don't take it so personal

This is out of line. It's you who should not have made a personal slight in the first place; if "the context was missing", that only means you didn't know what you were talking about.

Nobody gets to impugn specific people's lives like that here. Since your account is new we'll assume that you didn't know this, but please read the guidelines and in the future, post civilly and substantively or not at all.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


The problem is that words like 'selfish' are personal; that's precisely their meaning. It's one thing to say 'don't take it so personal' in a technical discussion where it should be clear to all participants that e.g. pointing out a bug in someone's code is not a personal thing, but if you're going to make remarks on topics that are personal rather than technical, you should either phrase them more tactfully, or else stick to using the Internet for technical discussions.


"It's so easy to get carried away by enthusiasm, ambition, pride, fear"

ahahahahh.

That's so immature...

You have 24hours in a day, decide how you allocate them. You'll soon realize that there's a choice to make. Since we're coder, we need time to achieve. So it's dead simple : * full time on code and you'll achieve => hapiness * full time on family and you'll feel right => hapiness * 50/50 and you'll have none of them and just have a basically I'm-not-extraordinary life

It always blows me away how many people refuse to see that this choice is inescapable and that it implies abandpnning a bit of yourself to keep in touch with humanity (i.e. friends, wife, children).


What I think you're missing here is the role of ambition. Full time on coding might make some people happy. That can happen if you only care about coding as an activity, and not about reaching specific goals. It can also happen if your goals fit within the amount of coding you can do individually in whatever milieu you're doing it. What if the thing you want to do, the software you want to create, requires more than that? Then you have to pull together a team, which brings in a whole bunch of complexity and loss of control. It can be awesome, or it can be draining and frustrating. Sometimes it's both.

On the flip side, "full time at home" isn't an option for many (probably most) people who'd be reading your comment or mine. Somebody has to make some money, not for its own sake but to reach family goals - housing of a certain quality, schools, sports or hobbies, whatever. Then there's a time commitment on top of that. It's a lot with one kid, it's more with two or three, it's far more if any of them or ill or troubled or disabled.

For many people, just having to choose is frustrating. People want to have a successful career and a good family life and time for themselves, and they just can't have all of them. Giving up on "having it all" is really really hard, and it's not immature. In fact it's the characteristic struggle of mature people, leading to burnout and mid-life crises. It's the immature, with fewer commitments and simpler goals, who seem least affected.

That's (part of) why I think your "that's immature" is itself the most immature thing I've ever seen on HN. It shows a startling lack of empathy for people going through something you apparently never have. I hope you are young, because if you can still say such a thing from the vantage of experience that's even more pathetic. The struggle is real, and being laughed at or condescended to as you go through it doesn't exactly help. It's part of what Jesse was warning about.


Grow up without money and constant financial worry, without a sense of home / self and few / no friends and start in the workforce when you're a teenager. You find yourself in "always make more money to be more secure" and "always look for validation from other that you belong". You become career driven as thats what defines you - and a "community" becomes your self reinforcement and friends.


This is an important observation about identity (a sense of self) itself.

What's more interesting to me is that the point remains valid even after replacing "money" with "love", "financial worry" with "social anxiety", "workforce" with "family" and "career" with "family", viz:

> Grow up without love and constant social anxiety, without a sense of home / self and few / no friends and start in the family when you're a teenager. You find yourself in "always love [more] to be more secure" and "always look for validation from other that you belong". You become family driven as thats what defines you - and a "community" becomes your self reinforcement and friends.

The question then becomes: why the need to identify in the first place? Why the need to "define" oneself (be it via a career or family)?


Wow. That's a very interesting point you touch on!

I've noticed that many of my late-twenties / early-thirties friends struggle with their current lives, and I think it often is because of what you describe: they spent so much time trying to 'become' that they never really considered or learned how to 'be'.

I struggle with this myself sometimes, too, and I consider learning how to 'be' with what I am now to be one of my biggest challenges and most important skills to practice.


I don't think it's a late-twenties or early-thirties thing. I'm 50, and many people in my own age cohort (including me) have to deal with the same issues. IMO it has to do with the kind of community one grew up in vs. the kind of community one occupies as a computer professional. If they're significantly different, there's a feeling of being an outsider/impostor and of having to try to fit in. If they're the same, there's no such drive. People who grow up poor and find themselves living amidst the relative affluence of high tech are often the most aggressive about either saving money or showing the outward signs of wealth. People who are the first in their families to get a good education are often the most likely to value it and/or show it off. You see the same sort of thing among people who lived through the Great Depression, or WW2 and its aftermath. In contrast, people who had all these things since birth tend to take them for granted and not think about them much. Cinderella never quite felt as comfortable in the castle as everyone else seemed to.


This is like saying to people who have procrastination issues (or any addictive, sub-optimal behavior pattern, really) that they should just make a different choice and not put things off. The real issues are subconscious and take a lot of time and effort to fix. Knowing something is different from being able to consistently execute on it.




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