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One day, you will be dead. Each year that passes after your death, fewer and fewer people will remember who you were, what you did or what your face looked like. Eventually, you'll be completely forgotten. Who cares if that side project you put out sucked or not. Might as well put it out there and see what people think. There's a good chance too that the project won't even be remembered even by the time you die.

The best way to get experience is to do things, so given that no one is going to remember, might as well try to do it. Your successes won't be remembered along with your failures.




I usually like to save my existential crises for later in the week, but thanks for helping me dive right into it on a Monday morning.


Its really not anything more than that silly yoda quote "do or do not there is no try".

Motivation/willpower is a very weak way to get things done, approach it instead with "I'll just write one line of code today/work on it for 15 minutes straight/document one thing/design one function". You'll likely find that once you start, you'll do more than you planned, the crux is almost always the start. You look at the entire body of work and think "its too much to do in one sitting", but ultimately thats your reptile brain talking you out of expending energy needlessly. So just use that little mind hack to get you out of your cognitive dissonance and started.

And if the prior posters statement gets you into an existential crisis, I'd start reading up on the stoics, buddhists, etc... Yes even if you're an atheist/whatever, accepting ones fate in the universe has no meaning is ultimately relieving. Or as a Shinto priest once told me: Life is a dance, dance to the music while it plays, you may not get another chance to dance!


> And if the prior posters statement gets you into an existential crisis, I'd start reading up on the stoics, buddhists, etc...

Not that it's not a good advice (I'm quite enjoying Meditations by Marcus Aurelius), but I'm fairly certain the above-poster said so in jest.


This comment made me burst out laughing. Well done sir.


Also laughed out loud at this. Thanks :)

It's also quite a freeing way of approaching a project - as long as I don't go to the extreme of not caring at all!

Reminds me of the "pale blue dot" perspective - when stressed visualise planet earth from further and further away.....


That line of thinking can also be quite demotivating. For instance, it could also be used to argue that since none of what I do matters anyway, I might as well spend it doing something else such as watching TV, playing video games, hiking in the forests, reading a good book, etc.


True, however, though you never know how what you do - no matter how small - will motivate others to something even greater in their lives. As pointless as it may seem - having the drive to progress helps others take on that mentality and move toward something greater as well!


> [...] since none of what I do matters anyway [...]

What makes you say that?

Is what you’re doing now worth doing only if people remember it after you die?


I've been thinking about that lately.

A couple of months back, I went through an existential crisis. I couldn't find a universal, cosmological reason for being, and, therefore, for doing anything productive. I asked myself: to what end is ouputting effort, if none of it will ultimately matter?

It took me some time – and a Viktor Frankl quote – to get out of the rut. Yes, my life doesn't matter as far as the Sun is concerned, or the black holes that make up the center of our galaxy, or the dark matter, or the next grain of sand I'll encounter... So what?

I enjoy making things. I get a kick out of it. Whenever I'm not facing the dread of failing (an excessively-frightening event that's seriously up to no good), I'm giggly about making effort towards creating something I value. Could be a short story. Could be another element of web design. Could be a philosophical paragraph or two. I enjoy it.

At some point during the bleak week, I thought of killing myself. Why bother if none of it matters the least, right? Might as well not experience any of it.

And then it clicked: it's the same fear you experience when you face the prospect of asking for something and may be rejected as a result, amplified to encompass my whole existence. It's like asking the boy/girl out, but if I'm rejected, by whole being is at stake. Like I'm going to lose myself if I make the wrong move here.

"What the fuck? I'm gonna cancel my being subscription just 'cause I'm afraid to ask the life out? Fuck no!"

What I was left with is my passion, and the fear I'm facing. I didn't just not want to die: I wanted to live. I wanted to explore, to create, to love and be loved – all a consequence of the inner passion I was afraid to realize. Why would there be need for a higher reason when, down here, I'm all good for doing something good?

Most things you face are deeply circumstantial. Life as we know it is absurd. If you want to live, you might as well live without resorting to fear as your safety net.


I don't see why people say things like "Life as we know it is absurd". Because we die? Or.. I don't know. What would be a non-absurd life, then?! Absurd, compared to what? Just because some existentialists said life is absurd, doesn't make it so. (Maybe it was to do with the cultural loss of religion, God no longer there watching, giving life meaning - the creator of the universe caring a lot about you personally, eternal life etc. That plus WW2..)


We're born into presumptions. We grow up surrounded in presumptions. We live through a life full of presumptions. We die still surrounded by presumptions.

I think it's safe to say that most people act as if those presumptions are solid borders that one can't – "not allowed to" – cross. Behaving in a way that others see as silly, or out-of-place, or not based in reality challenges others' presumptions, and we're terrible in handling views that contradict ours, even if said behavior does no damage to the fabric of the society the "silly sod" is in. (Your comment's upset tone suggests as much.)

Imagine seeing a man dancing down the street. He doesn't disturb anyone, takes precautions to avoid colliding with people and things. He has no headphones on. What would you think of him? That he's crazy? mentally-ill, perhaps? unstable? Maybe he's drunk? high? under a different kind of influence?

He's just dancing down the street 'cause he feels like it. No one is hurt, yet so many are upset. Why? He's challenging the presumption that it's not okay to dance – or express joy so openly – in front of those uninvolved, in front of strangers.

Why do we presume so? I haven't the slightest clue. (I have an idea or two about why it could be beneficial – social coherence being one of them – but I don't see any ultimate cause for such a barrier.) Just because I might relate to how the majority would feel does not automatically confirm that my feelings are meaningful, in an existential way.

No, just 'cause someone told you something is something, doesn't mean it is. If so many people arrive to the same conclusion independently, however, it should say something about the validity of the state of things. I don't need people to tell me how to feel – but I feel similar to how they feel, maybe we're onto something.

A more productive venting for your frustration may be asking more insightful questions. Asking what the idea of "absurd" in "absurd life" derives from is a good start, but only as long as you seek to hear the answer, rather than have it disproven.

For what it's worth, I find that the reasons you state in the parethesis are of little relation to the reality of such views. They seemed, intuitively, to have paved the way for people's disillusionment, which probably sparked a whole lot of introspection and consideration. I don't think, however, that people never wondered the same questions before. (Might be wrong, but hasn't Marcus Aurelius famously expressed similar views in Meditations, at the time of Ancient Rome? I need to finish that book.)

As a matter of fact, I haven't seen a single philosopher denouncing existentialism in favor of the more "real" reality, for things matterring exactly as much as we value them. (I'd love to be proven wrong: that would be a marvellous read.)

Have you never felt like an unwritten rule in the society around you made no sense, regardless of how much pressure you received towards following it? George Carlin said, early in his career (paraphrased):

> Not running with scissors – that's a good rule! That's a rule I'd like to follow! These motherfuckers are sharp! Not singing at the table, on the other hand... What happened there? Some poor bastard sang badly at the table, and the rest of us have to suffer for it? What about singing while standing next to the table?¹

¹ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pgzWRVEqHY

The definition of "absurd", roughly, is "not following what is evidently true". You asking me what time it is and me replying "Chicken!" is absurd. So are so many of those presumptions we're born into, live through, and die with. I don't think it's because we die: I think it's because most of those presumptions make not a lick of sense, when you think about them.


You wrote: "He's just dancing down the street 'cause he feels like it. No one is hurt, yet so many are upset. Why?"

Maybe people frown on that or treat the man awkwardly, because they see it as "weird", which subconsciously really means "unfamiliar/uncommon and unexplained, therefore the odds are increased of it being a threat to me or interfering with something that is familiar or desired to me." I think that happens a lot.

There is a story I read (which might have been in Covey's "7 Habits..." book), about a man with his very noisy, disruptive children on a subway train: the passengers seemed irritated, but when he explained to one passenger, that his wife and the children's mother had just died at the hospital, from which they were now returning home, and maybe they were all a little confused and out of their normal behavior. Then the perception of others suddenly changed from "control your kids" to "oh, how might I help?"

Which connects to the whole set of ideas about how we judge each other superficially, but sometimes there could be some reason for our doing so (our safety, or comfort levels with surprising behavior where we have no choice whether to be around it). I expect that is the source of many social norms. Another way to look at it is to consider that we might best not judge others too harshly, and we might be understanding, including to those who themselves judge others harshly, since in all those cases we don't know why they do it. (None of which is to say we should not have any boundaries while thinking about it.)

Various comments in this discussion are interesting. My belief in God and my choices and the specific, long-considered reasons around that are directly connected to why I feel peace and motivation even when things are very hard.


Are those "specific, long-considered reasons" revolve around your religious belief? If so, could you share them? I'm an atheist, and I'm looking to understand the mindset of people who are religious. It was never self-evident to me, and I'm curious why it may be to others.


Thanks for asking, I hope I am not too slow to reply.

The perhaps overly short version is: I have read and tested the Book of Mormon (a companion to the Bible) in the way it says to test it (http://www.mormon.org), and a lifetime of experiences when I followed what I felt inside that I knew was right ("knew" as in, I know I love my wife, or what salt tastes like, but can't necessarily prove or explain it to someone who doesn't want anything to do with it), vs. when I did not do what I knew I should, and the results I found from those choices. Those things together have solidly convinced me by now (with some time lost & hard consequences from learning the hard way at times, and real benefits when I learned the easy way). Life is still challenging, but that is part of the educational program I believe we signed up for, which is worthwhile, and the tools are there for dealing with the hard things.

About the Book of Mormon (and Bible): I have given them a lifetime of almost daily reading and contemplation (sometimes intelligently for me, sometimes not), plus have read some books and articles where people have commented in really fascinating ways about it (Daniel Peterson, Hugh Nibley, fairmormon.org which tries to answer critics, & others), as well as some anti-... material, and have thought about things from various angles ("what if it really...?"), and am satisfied that the debate is more for those who really like debate, while asking hard honest questions is a good thing because that is how we learn, and good things are there for those who seek, and I truly wish the best to all concerned, but ultimately, "proof" to satify everyone is always not going to happen in the way that they want it, and we have to seek according to our personal desires. The invitation from God to know for oneself, is there (as demonstrated by the Book of Mormon, its test, and many associated things).

There is much more detail; I'm happy to share more or try to answer specific questions, whether here, or by posting online some notes I already made but should probably reformat & clean up somewhat. One may also email me if desired (EDIT: at luke425 <symbol> lukecall.net). (From a practical standpoint, I might check this thread or my email somewhere between every few hours and every few days, but am happy to continue the conversation in that way, and after several blank days would assume this thread is complete. Suggestions always welcome. :)


Let me see if I understand you correctly...

Your conviction comes from the fact that you've read, almost daily, and contemplated over the Bible and the Book of Mormons, as well as read a good number of comments for and arguments against your position.

You also derive it from your life experiences, particularly those where you have either done or not done what you thought you were supposed to/felt good about doing.

Am I getting this right?

Were there any particular experiences or turning points when you may thought "Hm. Is that what my life is about?" or "Ah-ha! That is what I'm supposed to do!"?


Yes. One quick note: "Book of Mormon" (aka BoM or BofM) is singular: Mormon is the name of an ancient prophet/writer, not the name of our Church.

I posted material at http://lukecall.net (under "why I believe"), but the most direct answer to your questions might be at http://lukecall.net/e-9223372036854605861.html and pages to which it links. Honest questions & feedback are always welcome.

(The web site is generated from my note-taking program. It is intended to be very skimmable, where one can click on links if they are interesting, otherwise one doesn't see the details. There can always be more editing, but hopefully it is useful. Maybe in the future some levels should have a summary document of the contents, so you don't have to click around as much to read it in big chunks. Only part of the code to do that is written--to generate single-document outlines from my note-taking program, but not yet to include them in the web site.)


That is a decent summary of what I wrote, but there is much missing. It deserves, and I want to give you, a better than off-the-cuff answer (mostly posted at my web site) but with my schedule in the next few days it might be Tuesday or Wednesday when I can post again here. (I don't remember how long these discussions allow follow-up posts, but my email noted earlier is a fallback.)


Made good progress. Looking like 1, maybe 2 more days.


>A more productive venting for your frustration may be asking more insightful questions. Asking what the idea of "absurd" in "absurd life" derives from is a good start, but only as long as you seek to hear the answer, rather than have it disproven.

I didn't feel upset or frustrated, I regret giving that impression. Your 'tone' seems to me extremely arrogant, and it makes me want to not engage a moment longer with you. It sounds like you think already have all the answers. I'll let you talk with more 'insightful' people.


> It sounds like you think already have all the answers.

Not all, but the ones I have, I'm fairly confident in.

> I didn't feel upset or frustrated

> it makes me want to not engage a moment longer with you

I guess it's pointless to ask about the "?!?", then.


Not in this case. It directly relates to launching side projects without consideration for perfection which provides quick feedback.


The main thing to consider is which way of spending one's time will be more fulfilling in the long run.


Sure. If that makes you happier, there's nothing wrong with that.


Along these lines, I always try to be purpose driven: I make software because I'm good at it and because it makes me money. I need that money to buy food and clothing for me and my wife and our kids and to pay for having a roof over our heads. If I were better at something else, or not good enough at software, I would use that skill to accomplish the same task for the same reason. Usually it is enjoyable and rewarding to solve problems using software. But it can often be stressful and difficult. That's part of any job though, they can all be stressful and difficult. Going to a different career path will not relieve you from stresses and difficulties, it will only change what they are. So instead, if you enjoy writing software and are good at it, just learn how to overcome these difficulties and stresses in a good and healthy way, and keep remembering that at the end of the day, you're probably doing it for a higher goal.


Not to sound depressing, but as I read this comment's first paragraph, a negative perspective was my initial thought, and not the positive aspect.

It's worth noting that a "YOLO" attitude can be used as a double-edged sword for motivation (e.g, "One day I will be dead, so there's no point in vying for success")


I guess that depends on what you mean by success. If nobody ever remembers my successes, if I never make "disrupt" any industry, if I never get to retire, if my works are never immortalized, even if all my software becomes obsolete one day when the SDKs that I'm using no longer exist (which has already happened a few times), as long as I can pay for my family's food by solving problems for other people, I will be satisfied.


Very stoic of you. I like it !


I found this idea very motivating indeed. It reminds me not to take myself very serious and just start doing things. In fact thanks to your comments I started a new daring project today that is really challenging. Who cares if I fail... Nothing will be remembered if I fail, and there's always a chance to succeed.


Everyone dies.

"you live only as long as the last person who remembers you"


Haha, that's the only thing keeping my depressed ass from killing myself. Gonna die anyway, no need to rush it, might as well do something. Not doing much, though.


I use modanifil.

Understand sometimes motivation is lost due to low level of dopamine feedback loop.

I tried to motivate myself by thinking about negative scenarios like loss of job due to low performance etc...but it made motivation worse.

You can take DRIs like Modanifil or Armodanifil to setup a stronger Dopamine feedback loop.

Some people have this naturally so they are lot more driven, focused and motivation..

Some people suffer from low level of these due to lifestyle, diet or genetic reasons.

So far it has helped me, some day I work 20hours+ and don't feel drag.


I thought you were going to say: “Who cares if you build this project or not. Go out and enjoy life, as long as you can.” :P


I like to sum this sentiment up as:

"One day even Socrates will be forgotten."


Some framed-on-the-wall level of motivation right here




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