I read about five books a year, so even though it feels like I’ll read an endless number of books in the future, I actually have to choose only 300 of all the books out there to read and accept that I’ll sign off for eternity without knowing what goes on in all the rest.
I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year.
Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.
It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.
makes you want to take some time off and read, doesn't it?
At some point I realized that there was no reason I had to wait until retirement to realize this fantasy, and now many of my Saturdays begin with a walk to a local park, followed by several hours of reading. It's just as pleasurable as I had expected, and it's actually been surprisingly easy to make this happen now that I've made it a priority. It doesn't even take a whole day; there are plenty of Saturdays when I go out to read during the morning and still have the rest of the day free for whatever chores or social engagements are vying for my attention. I even find myself doing it on weekday afternoons evenings, especially in summer when the days are long.
Another thing that has led to me reading more books is just giving myself permission to read books in increments of 15 minutes or less during random moments of downtime. Moments on/waiting for the tram or between phone meetings that I would have spent checking Twitter on my phone can just as easily be spent reading a book. This isn't so good for certain kinds of content that you might want to devote more attention to, but I've found that I'm perfectly capable of enjoying fiction in 10-minute increments without significantly diminishing my enjoyment of it. And oftentimes, reading bits of a novel throughout the day often gives me a certain amount of momentum that makes me want to continue reading the book during my free time in the evening during time that I might have otherwise spent watching TV, browsing reddit/facebook, etc.
If we take in the finiteness of lifetime as a factor, most of our decisions will simply stop making sense. Life should be spent with no clear boundary other than it is finite.
I tallied it up and last year I read 58 books averaging 1.8 hours of reading a day.
A good book is something you want to take slowly and really read. Digging in and unpacking the meaning from interesting turns of phrase. I just don't get that from listening. I need to see the words.
Maybe for history, textbooks, or mindless pageturners it could be useful. But for a capital-B Book, no, that doesn't do it for me.
Early literature was all based on rote learning and spoken tongue. We still have some of those works left from preliterate times. Socrates, Homer, etc. Although, 'pre-literate' literature does sound a bit self contradicting.
As to early literature, I just got done reading Emily Wilson's new translation of the Odyssey. she goes into that a little in the introduction, about the difference between something you recite and something you read, and about how the odyssey is sort of in-between those two things; clearly it wasn't just homer taking dictation, but it also clearly does contain some artifacts unique to an oral storytelling tradition.
However, for the right books, audiobooks can be even better in my experience; books where you want some "wisdom" and feelings more than concrete stuff, and where a peaceful, somewhat-slow is appropriate.
I listened to Lab Girl, an intimate autobiography, read by the author, and it was fantastic. I am now going over a book on buddhism, and because I don't really care about remembering the details of Maharana's life, I love listening instead of reading. With such a book, reading faster doesn't seem to make much sense, I wanna go slow and savior its lessons.
In any case, it's been a good complement to my traditional reading; even when it isn't the best way to read a book, it's a fantastic way to make the most of commuting or doing chores.
As an aside I highly recommend reading "How to Read a Book". I don't recommend studying every detail, there is a lot in there I don't think is particularly valuable, but some of it really shifted how I thought about and approached reading.
I didn't find it that hard to listen to Dune compared to listening to, say, Peter F. Hamilton's works. For me it all is something that becomes entirely attention consuming.
Your mileage may vary!
I'm now down to ~25 books a year and feel like it fits me well.
Imagine all those people in a room. You could fit them in a small banquet hall. And between the oldest and youngest is the difference between the invention of writing and the utterly complex, global economic flow that we’ve networked ourselves into today.
You (currently being working class in present day) would likely be the most sought after person of interest, even among some of the bigger names in history. Behind you lies empty space of generations yet to come, who will immediately become more interesting if the same banquet were to be repeated with their inclusion.
What topic would you approach them with? Current events? Medicine? Tech? What could they simply pull from their pocket that would blow our minds today?
We have not succeeded in slowing aging.
I doubt that. Like it or not, military conflicts (and military confrontations such as the Cold War) have produced many of the technological advances that we enjoy today.
If you let me, I advice you to study philisophy, and you shall realise that our history is much bigger than our calendary. And if you study “The republic” os Plato, you will see that our material achivements are improved a lot,for sure, but the humanity as a whole civilization is in decay. Plato’s dialogues explain how our civilization evolves and decays in cycles, and we are currently in decay. Democracy is the system that currently rules the world, and it is one step before tirany.
The religions of the world are littered with actually very profound insight, for instance, but a lot of it is hidden behind parables and mythology, interwoven with narratives meant to maintain cultures and power structures, and generally favors the lies-to-children versions, but it's there.
I am reminded of a movie, Enemy Mine, wherein a human is learning an alien language in part via a religious text. After reading a passage bearing a remarkable similarity to "turn the other cheek", he looks up to his teacher and says "I've heard all this before", to which the alien's reply is "Of course. Truth is truth". One of the lessons of empiricism is that truths are repeatable --that we can both do the experiment, take them measurement, and produce the same result--, and even though much of philosophical thought is non-empirical that pattern seems to hold.
It seems to me, that one rejects a lot of these ideas because they seem wrong, are too simple, or even tautological, but once you've taken the long route and arrived at the same conclusion, you find that the universe had been screaming it at you your whole life and you just didn't really understand what it was saying because you lacked the context.
And they're difficult things to talk about because of that. Communication requires a shared context for mutual understanding, but often we lack that. Take any industry or specialization, which has developed its own language. Terms like "network", "database", or "stack" have meanings within the general public awareness, but within IT have much more specific definitions. When someone who uses this language daily tries to explain things to someone who doesn't, the other person's understanding will be different than what was intended because they don't understand the package of specifics that come with them, and likewise when they attempt to communicate back we sometimes have a different understanding than intended because we understand those terms in the context of that package of related concepts.
I think this is the cause of a lot of animosity between various communities. For instance, in academic feminism, the term "patriarchy" has a more nuanced meaning than it does to the general public, just like the terms "network" and "database". So when a feminist talks about the patriarchy they mean one thing, but what people often hear is something different. I think it is the same with a lot of academic, or religious, philosophy.
There's this term "karma" for which the lies-to-children version is "do good things and good things will happen to you". This is provably false, so a lot of people naturally reject it. However, if you do good things the world is actually slightly better for it, right? Even if not for you specifically. And if we all do good things, as a society, then those good things will happen to more people and you have a higher chance of having good things happen to you. If you live in a society where people tend to treat each other well, you'll all be better off than if you treat each other poorly. If you put in the work now to make the world a better place, your children will get to live in that better world, as you live in a better world made by the efforts of your parents and their parents before them. And of course the reverse is also true, if you insist on making the world a worse place through your actions. And in that context, "karma" doesn't seem so ridiculous anymore does it?
Of course, it's entirely possible that I am only seeing what I want to see. That I have, through my own lens of understanding, reinterpreted such things to fit reality as I see it.
Given 2,000 years of history, he'd likely have different views (I'd hope so anyway), but that's what the poster appears to be driving at. That doesn't seem to be the root cause of tyranny in Russia or China, but democracy can devolve into it.
And less than ten of my lifetimes take us back to Columbus. Less than twenty to my viking ancestors.
And oh yes, my teens were barely yesterday.
You could spend one life to become an expert doctor only to have all that knowledge made obsolete by time.
 - https://www.amazon.com/Shortness-Life-Seneca/dp/1941129420/
 - https://tripinsurancestore.com/4/on-the-shortness-of-life.pd...
"It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it... Life is long if you know how to use it."
>ONCE UPON A time, artists had jobs. And not “advising the Library of Congress on its newest Verdi acquisition” jobs, but job jobs, the kind you hear about in stump speeches. Think of T.S. Eliot, conjuring “The Waste Land” (1922) by night and overseeing foreign accounts at Lloyds Bank during the day, or Wallace Stevens, scribbling lines of poetry on his two-mile walk to work, then handing them over to his secretary to transcribe at the insurance agency where he supervised real estate claims. The avant-garde composer Philip Glass shocked at least one music lover when he materialized, smock-clad and brandishing plumber’s tools, in a home with a malfunctioning appliance. “While working,” Glass recounted to The Guardian in 2001, “I suddenly heard a noise and looked up to find Robert Hughes, the art critic of Time magazine, staring at me in disbelief. ‘But you’re Philip Glass! What are you doing here?’ It was obvious that I was installing his dishwasher and I told him that I would soon be finished. ‘But you are an artist,’ he protested. I explained that I was an artist but that I was sometimes a plumber as well and that he should go away and let me finish.”
Then there are sewage workers. I recall on “Dirty Jobs” the divers that have to work on submerged pipes make large amounts of money (six figures iirc).
I advocate for UBI because we really do have enough to feed and house everyone. The UBI isn’t a quota system - merely a per deim to purchase the bare minimum. That won’t place artificial prices on commodities nor force labor. People will still purchase goods and services on a relative, trade-off basis. The current system forces labor.
As for whether people will then decide to not work for burger joints: if a business needs to resort to the business practices I mentioned earlier in order to operate then maybe that business isn’t needed by society. Further, people with a UBI will see the minimal hours scheduled as a bonus - they’re just adding another income stream to their UBI at that point. And yes, the line for cutting off either should not exist or be high enough to be negligible at the trade off point.
There are lots of people that take pride in being grave diggers and morticians. It's also a cool job for anyone with gothic tendencies...
At best, they'd doing SIMILAR work for free -- but not the work itself, with the commercial and organizational constraints it has.
E.g. even if some people love programming and would still program for free, they wouldn't really want to program the features some bozo PMs have decided, and in the timeline they provided, and with meetings and other baggage that comes with it being a job.
So, one might love the field/domain, but loving "the job" itself is far less common (if it exists).
Sure, though I contend we ought to see much further than this. We need infrastructure in place, when the time comes, to allow citizens to collaborate efficiently on large projects as without income and access to capital, loafing around only gets you so far.
Lower-income/no-income citizens in the West rely on welfare, low-income housing as it is but that doesn't dispel the "impoverished" status despite being fed and housed; it mostly stretches beyond homelessness. And by extension ubi won't turn everyone into middle-class citizens. It doesn't address the issues of drug and crime microcultures in the ghetto either.
Sure, there is a lot of menial work, but society has been on a trend of automating that away for decades. No matter the field, there are things which can't be automated away and those are also things which someone somewhere is bound to find deeply interesting.
I argue people will be more willing to take menial work with a UBI. Because with UBI people will move from working to survive to working for luxury. Ie the UBI won’t buy them a nicer apartment, but the UBI plus a cruddy but simple job will.
UBI may be a good thing (if we can work out the economics of it), but people will still do the menial and risky jobs out of need, not to end up in the penthouse of a high-rise luxury building unless the pay is damned good.
The economics are sound so long as it’s a simple income. Economists have argued for simple payments to decision makers instead of regulations many times and different contexts.
eta: in support, not against the post I'm replying to.
Many forces add up and keep people in inefficient situations. In China, there’s a sort of majority dictatorship holding people down. In the US, there are local, state, and federal forces at play - from things like living in “the wrong” zip code to outsized rent, poor pay, lack of healthcare, through to national competition for scarce, good career options, racism, sexism, many other-isms, and so on.
 - https://www.amazon.com/Daily-Stoic-Meditations-Wisdom-Persev...
The key point of poor time boundaries, and losing one's time on tempting-but-non-fulfilling pursuits, are strong (and valid as much, or even more, in 2018).
Yet, I was disappointed that after beating around the bush of all pointless activities he tells that philosophy is the only worthwhile activity. (But some coincidence, Seneca's stuff... I expected a bit more of self-distance from a stoic.)
I've had that wish for a few months now. I have another job that's a bit less rewarding but I work from home and it's far more relaxed. I've already remarked to myself or my wife a dozen moments that I would have missed if I was elsewhere that day: at work, in traffic, etc.
I feel so blessed that I was lucky enough to figure this out this early in life.
I'll say a little bit about my personal perception of life's length. I've always thought it was long. Too long. And I still do. My school-age years lasted an eternity, and that was an eternity ago. From 18-22, when I was homeless, lasted an eternity, and that was an eternity ago. From 22-28, my early career when I was struggling to establish myself, was an eternity. From 28-34, when I had the most material comfort, career success, world travel, friends, hobbies, and lovers... well of course that went by too fast, but boy was it packed! From 34-38, when I struggled and suffered after the onset of Bipolar 1, and slowly learning to live with it while struggling with spotty employment, ruined credit, alienation, and more homelessness, was an eternity. The next 2 years, when I finally got around to doing the work I really wanted to do, flew by in a blur of happy 100+ hour weeks. Now I'm 40, and time is going faster, but it's possible that life is only half over. On one hand, that seems incomprehensible to me. How can I only be half-done? If I learned I would definitely die tomorrow, I would still consider my life to have been very, very long, and very full. But in another sense, no amount of time is enough to do all the work I want to do. I have at least a dozen large project ideas, designed on paper in a fair amount of detail, that life is too short to do. I probably have enough time for 2 of them. That is a little bit frustrating, but meh.
I'm trying to resolve these two different views. Basically, for the specific purpose of finishing a dozen ambitious personal projects, life is too short. I do the best I can by spending very little time doing paid work, and living like a monk to afford it. But the subjective feeling about the length of the journey - all its different chapters that seem like eons, each one like its own lifetime - my feeling is that it is TOO DAMN LONG.
Maybe it's only 1/3 over, or depending on medical advances, less than that!
I especially find the "you only get X weekends with Y" formulation depressing. It makes it sound worse than it is, and enforces a valuation that may not at all be true for you.
That 5% of time may be a significant portion of the experience (for lack of a better word).
I mean, while that IS a valid approach, you have to also keep in mind that the more you can "go without", the better the position you are in to improve your life.
To change requires you not to be running at 100% all the time. You have to find a way to save some oomph for lateral growth when the way up seems to be blocked. Without that oomph, you'll never get out of where you are.
There's a lot of anxiety in the idea that you're "wasting" your life. You feel anxious about every day, worrying that you aren't doing enough even though you don't really want to do more. For instance, I might worry too much that I'm using my free time poorly that I don't enjoy it, and therefore waste it, which only causes me to think that I am wasting my life. Some amount of stress/anxiety is good because it gets you out of bed and doing something, but encouraging it too much is debilitating.
Start with baby steps to get used to good habits. If you do no exercise, start doing 2 pushups or 2 squats.
Clean your room. Organize your house a bit. Make a very easy to follow, unambitious schedule. Once you get comfortable, refine it very slowly.
If you are going to use social networks to stay in contact with friends, keep a countdown. 20 minutes a day total works for me. Same for TV/Netflix/reddit. Meet up with your folks more often, listen more and don't be a drag. Try to stay positive in spite of a bad situation. There's light at the end of the tunnel.
Go to bed early and listen to interesting audiobooks. You either fall asleep early or you advance your reading, win-win. Start decreasing the amount of processed foods and replace all drinks to water or tea.
The key is you gradually change as you need to retrain your brain to good habits. Same with your gut microbiome and your fitness.
You don't know your full potential.
(Many bits taken from JP)
Everything already is. Relax. Nothing needs to be done. There is no need to be anything special. Look at the sky all night. Start a start-up. Stay in bed all day. It makes no difference. Whatever you are doing, you are already dancing in the dance of nothingness. Be there.
How could it possibly not?
When reflecting, I check to make sure I'm striving to live in a way that aligns with my values and long-term goals, and that my values and goals still make sense, given my current understanding of myself and life.
Practical result: it's probably better to go to a new club you don't know yet every time you go out, than to frequently visit your favourite one. Even if it feels wrong to habitual animals like us.
Apologies for the rambling.
Trying to find canned meaning to fill your random 2 hour chunk seems vaguely like looking for the fast food that is every bit as healthy, cheap, and tasty as home cooking.
Now, if you instead for example become a gardener and enjoy gardening, maybe you can take those 2 hours and spend them caring for the garden.
In short, try to fill your life with good things you enjoy, instead of trying to find a meaningful peg that fits into an arbitrary hole of your specifications.
This took a lot of planning and sacrifice, especially when I first went remote, and it required me to come to terms with what it was I really wanted: a life mostly outdoors climbing rocks in a beautiful place.
In short, figure out how you want to live and the steps to achieve it. Then your question of what to do with your two hours will answer itself.
Jiu jitsu is still a game of sorts; however, this game causes me to work out more intensely than I could ever do just by cranking out sit ups at the gym. I can measure my skills development pretty accurately based on what techniques I can pull off on skilled opponents. Abstractly, I can defend myself better (though that's not my purpose) and I prioritized it in my life so I can go roll with friends a few evenings a week.
Look into a physical hobby. It has been an important change for me.
When I come away from an hour long video game session, my body has been physically sitting and staring at a screen as I move my fingers, so it's actually a physical state physical similar to "work" and doesn't actually leave me feeling energized and relaxed. If I spend an hour throwing darts or shooting pool (even alone at home as a solitary activity), I stand up (better for my posture) and my body feels like it's engaged in a physical task in a way that actually lets my mind relax. It leaves my brain (and mind) both feeling better. And there's also the fact that pub games lend themselves to the social "let's meet up with some friends at the pool hall" kind of activities more than video games do, at least my experience.
Other examples of "physical" hobbies might include playing a musical instrument, creating something physical (woodworking, crocheting, origami, drawing, sewing, painting, cooking), these often tend to be the kind of quiet meditative activities that give your mind a rest and actually feel like taking a break from work (as opposed to certain video games, which can actually feel more stressful on a chemical level; one of the reasons I quit playing games like Dota and Counter-Strike is that I'm pretty sure they kept my adrenaline and cortisol levels high for an unhealthy amount of time).
As an alternative to giving up video games, maybe consider playing different kinds of games. Even as I spend less time playing video games, I work in the video industry, and so I play a large variety (partly out of a sense of professional responsibility, and partly because I'm curious about what my friends in the industry are doing), but rather than spend 100 hours playing a Battlefield or Call of Duty each year I'll play a lot of smaller video games that deliver a complete experience in less than 5 hours. Playing a smaller narrative game like Night in the Woods felt like an emotionally fulfilling experience similar to watching a movie, whereas playing a multiplayer game like Battlefield or Overwatch just felt like hopping into an adrenaline-fueled meat grinder for an hour every day.
As we get older, we develop stronger biases, so we think we can dismiss more and more as not worthwhile without even trying it. That's why I believe some outside influence is key.
Overcoming a challenge which is hard (but within your limits a hard) is an incredible thing to experience.
As we humans are social creatures something emotional(mostly +ve) might also sustain your involvement in that activity and thus lead to eventual higher reward from that activity.
But at the end for most people who are present here I think I can safely say that doing something which involves less screen time and more "physical interaction" with the world would be beneficial.
If you know those then you can work toward allocating your time optimally.
Most people have no clue what their goals are or what really motivates them, so they just float along doing whatever arouses their interest (those addicting behaviors).
Setting goals or being motivated out of fear that you're wasting your life is totally missing the forest for the trees.
There's all these "regret minimization" techniques and books out there - but they all fail at one thing; giving the true reason for why every person will ultimately have regrets: You are not you. The exhausted and tired you has different weights assigned to activities, most strongly correlated with energy required. The stimulated you after drinking 4 shots of expresso or taking amphetamines, is more than willing to do the things that tired you would probably have not done.
We wrestle with lazyness, consumption versus actual action, the great now for the shitty future or vica versa. You really can't please all modes of thinking -- ever. The deathbed mode of thinking is another entirely different beast.
But what pg says about "importance" vs "what matters" rings true and really penetrates through this incompleteness of self-thought. Love is the only thing that could never be wrong. Because it isn't a binary - it's not even just a feeling - it's a thing that modes of thought can't erase despite their different weighting schemes.
Do whatever you do - but do it for love. I promise you it won't be a regret.
i used to enjoy his essays for a long time, til i started to see how out of the world of most people even the basic stuff he writes there -- he is able to afford to spend time doing stuff nobody can, then it's kinda of easy to be successful at whatever he does.
She didn't go to an expensive college, own a company, make tons of money, or anything of that sort. But she wanted to spend time with us and so she found ways to do that. Of course, I think she's a very strong and smart woman and I've wondered if I could do the same; but I see more and more examples of this every day from people who follow similar guidelines as what PG recommends. If you have an achievable goal (I think spending time with kids can qualify as such depending on the circumstances) and you try to cut out the bullshit along the way, it can be done.
for really 90% of the parents I know, they would love to have more time to spend with their kids, and it is usually their top priority, it just that they can't
ofc, that's because they didn't go to stanford or sold their company. in the economy of nowadays, you can only get rich if you do this in the US(in the tech sector), or is born rich. with to me, he got actually both
this advice in the essay is as good as you can get if you talk with a random person, yet, people admire it and 'PG recommends' it just because he has plenty of money and is some kind of geek inspiration.
this is very interesting, whenever he is talking about a random subject which isn't startups for very priviledged people, you can see that his 'wisdom' goes as far as what your neighbour probably also know
that's so smart
Additionally, I would reiterate that I think this could indeed be applicable to many people. PG's example of a time-waster, "arguing online," could easily be substituted with "watching TV" and then apply to the average household in America. For example, if my dad had done like my mom and tried to reduce bullshit, he wouldn't have been an alcoholic who was either working or watching TV and never spending time with us.
I don't think that's fair to say (and I know I'm "arguing on the Internet" here... bad!). After cashing out for FU money, it's much harder than before to put in 100 hours/week and "invest" your own health in order to succeed at something against the odds. Money can't replace everything, especially not dedicated founder time. It's also much harder to see a point in proving yourself again. I know it's an unpopular opinion with many people, but it's been like that for me and other successful founders I've talked to.
What's easy is to make more money from money using proven methods (strictly not "whatever he does"). VC is not rocket science and pg is simply smarter than many others in the field, so he is fairly successful at it.
It has often been described as a pyramid, with physiological needs at the bottom, and self-actualization (or maybe self-transcendence) at the top. The full heirarchy is:
- Social belonging
- Safety needs
- Physiological needs
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_heirarchy_of_needs
People who have issues getting basic needs met are just unlikely to also get their higher needs met. But I the misunderstanding of needs is also why people do things like smoke and drink and people from more healthy backgrounds don't understand why.
And people have been known to forgo comfort for causes. The basic things matter because without them you will often be in danger, but they don't necessarily matter psychologically.
I think self-actualization, i.e., some degree of mattering, some degree of respect, is important to pretty much everyone, it's just that if you are lacking food and shelter you're also probably having trouble finding a purpose, as well.
I recently got bitten by bitcoin trading. Knowing nothing about trading it was extremely wasteful. Also soulless... every dollar I made was someone else's loss. But it made me approach waiting and time efficiency differently. I'm a very attentist person.. I wait.. waiiit.. In bitcoin there's a tension (I did minute scalping) to get started and leave at the right time. Also since no one wants to wait watching charts, it made me learn rust/kotlin in the mean time with way more energy. Stretching and working out too.
Surprisingly this stupid activity gave floor to other more fulfilling ones. Life is complex sometimes.
ps: sometimes too life make you blind to what would be your perfect life and then you miss it. uneasy feeling to get over.
My perspective through trading bitcoin is that it isn't as zero sum as you say but more like your gain and someones loss could be seen as you are interacting with a system that may make people money in the long run.
I think its good though that you started to learn Kotlin and Rust and maybe you are being a bit too hard on your self of being guilting when you are trading cryptocurrencies.
Given how high transaction costs are (and production via electricity usage) crypto trading is almost certainly negative sum.
The only way it wouldn't be is if the non-monetary benefits (eg sense of security for different asset class, online purchases) exceed the electrical inputs.
I would be very surprised if it does given eg Steam and Bitcoin conferences stopped accepting crypto payment and the sense of security in an asset class is low after seeing -65% returns in a quarter.
And I don't mind the losses etc, I didn't bet my house, nothing serious. I also think btc is not worth much, at least coming from my speculative/profit side. I think there are more interesting things to do.. so back to pg article :)
ps: I wouldn't mind a cute 3x profit, I know how I'd spend the money in very good ways.
The essay is well intended, and well written as usual, I just have an issue with the underlying assumption that people can simply change everything as desired.
My only wish was he was more cognizant of this and wrote accordingly, but his writing has gotten less rigorous and more flowery over the years, not less. It's a real problem across tech. I've read some comments on HN describing tech as devoid of culture, which has some truth to it, but the bigger issue is we don't really care about evidence, and that comes from the top.
Hell, I still worry...
“The days are long but the decades are short”
I love this article, and this line has always hit me particularly hard. He goes on to mention that she encouraged this illusion, and I think many people who are older do this as well.
As someone who is going through something similar, what do you do in this situation? Of course you can adjust your life to live as if people won't always be there, but how do you get them to stop encouraging the illusion?
Wise words. It took me a long time to learn this the hard way.
Life is long and good. Even when shitty things happen to you, it’s a gift to be alive. (A gift from whom, you might ask? Probably nobody, but nobody knows! Isn’t that exciting?) I’m about to celebrate my 10,000th day on Earth. That’s a lot of days! And I have a couple times that more ahead of me if I’m lucky and I do some exercise.
I’m not waiting to do things that matter to me, not because the clock is ticking, but because I want to do them now. And I might not want to do them later, so it’d be a shame if I didn’t.
Of course I’m terrified of the day it ends. It keeps me up almost every night. But pragmatically, the more I think about that, the less I enjoy the time I have. And I plan to arrange a good vitrification at the end of things so I have a small chance of coming back for an encore. You’ve got to be practical about life, but you don’t need to be pessimistic. Life may not be long enough, but it is long.
John Tyler was born in 1790, and he took office in 1841.
I savor every day with him, even when I'm busy and a bit frustrated. I tell him that as well.
Reading the opening part of this hit me in the gut.
> don't wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have. That's what you do when life is short.
It depends on your situation. If you cashed out and don't have to worry about paying rent and feeding your family (like Paul) then it's easy to spend more time with your family.
If not: You are constantly torn between spending time with your family and getting your startup/career/job right to be able to finance the next vacation/school/flat. It's actually even worse. Every minute you spend with your family you face opportunity costs losing money you could invest into your family. If you work only your kids won't remember you.
Try to cash out before you hit 25, not later than 30.
This is, of course, not a new observation. It's Easter, so here are a few Biblical quotes with the same sentiment:
"What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14 ESV)
"Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow." (Psalm 144:4 ESV)
It's an old observation... but it's also timeless. It's good to be reminded. Thanks.
I’ve always thought it’s better to wait until at least my late 30s, so I can live the first half of my life completely on my terms. My father was in his late 30s when I was born, and I think it was a pretty good decision on his part.
We used our 20's to finish undergraduate college and go on to get our graduate degrees, do some traveling, and build & grow a successful software company. We looked at our 20's as the chance to build a business with little opportunity cost and even less overhead, knowing we had the rest of our life to recover from any failures. We put in a lot of hard & long hours, dealt with financial ups-and-downs, and had to learn how to build a team.
Today our software company, now a SaaS and e-commerce business, is stable and has a solid team in place. Being established, along with our kids enrolled in online school, enables us to have a significant amount of flexibility for family. We spend just over half of our year in Texas and the rest in Colorado. Work still has to get done, but we can work around family now.
I couldn't imagine us trying to build a business from scratch, especially as a husband-and-wife team, while also trying to raise kids.
But I would say younger, given you know yourself pretty well and have a good idea what field you want your career to be in.
Yes, kids are limiting. But they also open up the world to you again. You don’t really understand most of art, culture, society until you have kids of your own IMO. It’s not like you can’t continue to have grand experiences, you will just hopefully be having them with someone who you will have a loving relationship with until you die instead of some random person.
Also I didn’t want to be unable to ski/bike/climb etc with my kids when they are young adults because I was too old.
Raising kids is hard. Be prepared to explore how petty and self centered you really are and be prepared to stop being like that.
Note that "enough time" means different things to different people. Some people don't like their kids, and won't regret prioritizing their career.
But if you're anything like me you'll be astonished at how much you love your kids. You'll love them in a way and to to a degree that you didn't know was possible, that surpasses any love you've experienced before. Get to a place time-wise and financially where you can do that love justice.
I've heard him remark somewhat wistfully that he wishes he had been able to spend his 30's (when he was younger and had more energy) running around in the park and tossing around a frisbee or rollerblading with them, rather than struggling to keep up with them now as a 50-year-old. And mind you, he's a pretty healthy guy (was a college athlete, not currently overweight or with any chronic health problems), he can bench press more than most guys half his age, and he still wishes he'd had those younger years to spend with his kids. I've also heard him mention once (in a much more somber tone) that if his sons wait as long as he did to have kids, he might not get to see his grandkids grow up, and even if he does get to watch them grow up, he will be a very old man by the time they're old enough to swim or throw a frisbee. (If physically keeping up with your kids as a 50-year-old is tough, imagine trying to do the same thing as a 80-year-old grandparent.)
Here's a question: would you rather spend your 30's globetrotting (or otherwise "living life on your own terms"), and then be raising kids into your 50's? Or would you rather spend your 30's raising kids, and then have your 50's to go on globetrotting adventures? Everything I've heard from parents tells me that raising kids takes immensely more energy than touring Europe.
Another thing that might go overlooked is that although I've seen some parents abandon hobbies to spend more time with their kids, I've seen some people with hobbies that they've gotten to share with kids that have been a great bonding experience, be it something like woodworking or playing a musical instrument or a martial art or running a side business on Etsy. And even if it's something that doesn't involve the kid, parents still get to have lives; I have a friend who has a full time job, is raising three kids, and still managed to write a novel in the past year. Modern American society has burdened parents (and kids) with lots of obligations like soccer practice/youth sports league of your choice, a constant regiment of scheduled afterschool activities and an attitude that says if you let your kids play in the park unsupervised you're a neglectful parent, but most of the anecdata I've observed tells me that both parents and kids seem to enjoy themselves more and have better relationships when they have large amounts of unscheduled time during the week; one of the things I'm most grateful to my parents for is the large amounts of time that they left me to entertain myself and discover my own hobbies.
Here's another thing: after your kids grow up, you (hopefully) get to be friends with them. My parents (now mid-late 50's) are empty nesters, and one thing that I'm constantly struck by is how much I enjoy being friends with them, traveling back to their part of the country once a year to go on vacations together once a year, calling them every week to commiserate about the trials of adult life, and so on. We have the kind of incredibly tight familial bond that you only get from living under the same roof with someone for 18 years and they're also incredibly good friends. If all goes well, I'll be able to spend the next several decades with my parents continuing to be a part of my life, and that's something that I'm immensely grateful for. The earlier you have kids, the more years of your life that you get to spend with them, and the more years of their life they get to spend with you.
My point is not that children are the source of the problem but that these things about what you would rather do is personal to each human.I don't think one can make a blanket statement about rasing kids or doing you thing as there are quite many people on either side who regret the path that they have taken.
Also your bond with your parents is quite heartwarming and I hope you od realize how lucky you are to have that.
Most people probably feel that life is too long and boring and are always looking for something to do.
It's probably somewhat offensive to these people to claim life is too short when their major negative emotion day to day is ennui.
I think the internet has exacerbated this problem for some people. Those who can't bring themselves to do things because they can easily see that it's already been done before but weren't young enough to grow up in this new environment to easily consider doing things like game streaming or YouTube channels.
A good online debate ends up looking like a geometry proof: based on these givens, here's the logical conclusion using cold, hard, and clear logic.
Now, it may be that people disagree with the givens, being that many of them depend on assumptions of human behavior and psychology that would take million$ to settle in controlled studies, but at least one narrows down the reasons for their preference. Another reader can then "shop the proofs" and select the one with givens that best match their own circumstances or shop practices. Thus, good debates create clear(er) decision trees even though disagreements remain. Parameters will remain parameters.
But the opposite is also true: while I am alive, I am never dead (as silly as it sounds). I never experience death. For me it is an eternal now which is always alive. Should I worry about things I will never experience? We only experience the death of others, we don't know what it is like not to be alive 100 years from now. Why should we care about that when we are in an eternal now that is always alive?
One way to deal with death is to leave something of you behind - kids, ideas or social impact. Another way is to remember that there is a great number of people who died as well - everyone before a certain birth date in fact. It's not like going in a strange place, it's like going where all these great people went before us.
When we die we're divided - the matter that was in our bodies goes to earth and is recycled in nature, possibly becoming part of another life. The genes pass on to our kids and our grandchildren, then spreading out in a vast number of people 10 or 20 generations later; genes have a life of their own. The ideas we had fly from mouth to mouth, having a life of their own as well. The memories are left with our friends and family and will have a second death when they die. But does it matter to you if you're remembered by someone who is not close to you? The life that was in us just reinvents itself again. We're split into pieces and every piece goes right where it should.
Another thing to ponder about: what else is a lot like death? In a sense, it's the time before we were born. It was like death, because we didn't exist, and then we came into being. How was it before we were born? Was it a bad experience? We have had eons of death before our short ~80 year span and it didn't affect us negatively one bit. If we're not affected by the 'no-life' of the time before we were born, why should we be affected by the 'no-life' that will be after we die?
In the end, what is important? I think all reasons in life are related to survival instincts. Even learning to walk and grasp, or how to function as a member of society, or how to date and how to raise children - they are all in the service of self replication (and protecting one's life). Our fundamental reason for being is self replication, and all our "good things in life" come from things that support it. Thus it is this recursive loop that creates the root value (that of being alive) and from it come all our other values.
But this kind of thinking is relative. When we're lifting ourselves from the basic loop of survival, we see how many of the things we hold dear and important are irrelevant. There is no universal good or reason to be. Meaning is being invented every moment and we're in control of it. We should think ourselves free and ignore the survival game as much as we like. That's the beauty of it - we're free to reinvent ourselves, or to embrace our instincts and values, which have been chiseled by countless generations of genetic selection before us. One strategy is exploration (there's no rule, we could be anything), and the other exploitation (holding dear the good things in life, those which fit our survival instincts). They're both valid.
I don’t experience the timelines where I do/did die, by definition. I can only enjoy the one in which I don’t/didn’t.