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Turning 20

Planted 02020-12-09

It’s strange to look back on 19 years and even stranger to look forward.

I often joke about teleporting to future dates, as that’s how it often feels to be in the present. Everything leading up to this point seems to have happened in the blink of an eye.

Time is one of those things we don’t seem to be good at wrapping our heads around.

One thing that always sticks out to me when looking back is that I could’ve been more. Always thinking I’d be so much farther than where I am now. Think, money, connections, and impact.

Recent thinking has led me to a principle of sorts: People don’t need truth; they need ways to move forward.

The use of need is subject to change, but I’ll work with it for now. It takes the weight and fear that drowns us to seek to be right before taking action and pivots it into giving others a way to move forward.

I see issues with it, but for now, yes, it gives me a way to move forward.

We don’t need authenticity. Fiction may be false, but fiction works on us. A story doesn’t need to be true for it to help us move forward.

And you can’t have creativity without concealed sources.

Some of the people that come to mind that I’ve grown up consuming their works over the years:

And countless others. Quite literally countless, even as I’ve begun attempting to list them across my resources.

And on that note, how have I, and how will I move forward?

Ideally with micro speed, macro patience. It’s about moving forward to learn and grow right now while keeping a long term perspective.

All we can do is trust that the process and practice will lead to good outcomes in the long run.

I surely don’t want to look back and regret that I didn’t do something. But the dots only connect backwards.

I find virtue in my ability to not engage in things that ask for my attention and don’t ask me to think. (Aptly social media and TV)

This has led to a remarkably virtuous cycle of discovery and learning. I look back at things I added to my website and think to myself “I really only learned about that two months ago?”

2020 has been a remarkable year of growth for me. Some of the more tangible discoveries I’ve made are great blogs and great forums. You can now find a list of blogs and forums I consider “The Greats” on my knowledge page. I will likely change the title of the page (for the second time) to “library,” as that seems to be a better reflection of it.

Among various other site changes, I’ve added a word-counter to my writing page, inspired by Patrick McKenzie.

The digits are a bit of a lie, but the important part for me is that I can make the number go up. I want to push myself to write more.

I’ve never really thought about what I want my life to be like. The closest thing I’ve done is say I am a Designer, Developer, and Marketer. And it feels weird to ask myself “where do you want to be in five years?” Because the answer is so clearly “Not where I am today” and “I don’t know.” And that’s just the whole spectrum isn’t it?

I have no idea what the next few years will have in store for me. But I believe I’ve prepared myself for whatever may come.

But I can’t help but feeling I’ve done it wrong.

From The Republic by Plato:

let us take every possible care that young persons do not study philosophy too early. For a young man is a sort of puppy who only plays with an argument; and is reasoned into and out of his opinions every day; he soon begins to believe nothing, and brings himself and philosophy into discredit. A man of thirty does not run on in this way; he will argue and not merely contradict, and adds new honour to philosophy by the sobriety of his conduct. What time shall we allow for this second gymnastic training of the soul?—say, twice the time required for the gymnastics of the body; six, or perhaps five years, to commence at thirty, and then for fifteen cviii years let the student go down into the den, and command armies, and gain experience of life. At fifty let him return to the end of all things, and have his eyes uplifted to the idea of good, and order his life after that pattern; if necessary, taking his turn at the helm of State, and training up others to be his successors. When his time comes he shall depart in peace to the islands of the blest.

Guilty as charged.

Although, I think it’s remarkable I’ve never fallen into publishing on any platform despite creating accounts from a young age.

I look to change that moving forward. … Maybe?

Anything less than full responsibility for how we show up in the world is a disservice to the gift we’ve been given. And I’m still figuring out how I want to show up in the world, I think we all are, really. But I’d like to at least show up.

I sometimes compare myself to other 20-something-year-olds with more money, connections, and impact. But, these kinds of comparisons are often worthless. We’re on our own paths, defined by the skills we develop.

And I’m proud of the skills I’ve developed.

Comparison is the thief of joy when applied broadly, but the teacher of skills when applied narrowly. — James Clear

And for posterity, “Comparison is the thief of joy” is attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt.

I imagine that the next best thing I can do for myself moving forward is to change my learning gear from explorer to connector. That means shifting from publishing mainly “notes to self” into publishing “works meant to help others move forward.”

As stated earlier, people need ways to move forward.

Or, maybe as I’ve found in a recent web wandering:

Rather, I am attempting to explain things to my future self, who is intelligent and interested, but has forgotten. What I am doing is explaining why I decided what I did to myself and noting down everything I found interesting about it for future reference. I hope my other readers, whomever they may be, might find the topic as interesting as I found it, and the essay useful or at least entertaining–but the intended audience is my future self. — Gwern

That seems like a much easier way to start, albeit it would take a much different route than if I were to act with the sole aim of “helping people move forward.” As explaining things to my future self would largely be software related. But I like the idea.

I just need to show up and do the work.

I look forward to looking back on the next five to ten years and reflecting on how I’ve moved forward. Aware that it’ll soon be another teleportation.

(So I realized while editing that you would probably call that time travel, not teleportation. But I think my parapraxis alludes to living in the ever-ephemeral now.)

You can wish away forever, but you’ll never find a thing like today.

Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone.

Keep in mind how fast things pass by and are gone—those that are now, and those to come. Existence flows past us like a river: the “what” is in constant flux, the “why” has a thousand variations. Nothing is stable, not even what’s right here. The infinity of past and future gapes before us—a chasm whose depths we cannot see. — Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Listing goals is problematic, as I bounce around in exploration, which means letting things go pretty quickly.

A few immediate reading goals in particular are to better think Less Wrong and act Long Now (H/T Gwern):

I’m grateful for discovering both of those ideas and communities. They resonate.

There are many books on my reading list. As part of wanting to go through and make things dated on my site for posterity, I think the first step is publishing my “to-read” list and adding dates to future books read.

I’ve finally started Deep Work by Cal Newport, and hopefully I write something from it.

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

I hope to make the next decade full of Deep Work.

Let’s make the 20s a decade of growth.