I believe wholeheartedly that technology and science, especially the leading edge better the human condition. That’s why I love working with and staying apprised of the latest tech and advancements in science. That’s why I have an insatiable desire to learn new things, and old. That’s why I got into node.js, that’s why I love perusing Ars Technica and other blogs/content aggregators. In some ways I feel I am also a futurist. I like envisioning a world where major problems are no more. I fear and embrace the melding of human and machine that we are heading towards. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime, but I am certain that there will be a time where we will use machines, maybe nanites–or something even more clever–to overcome many of our current diseases and even longevity. I do question whether stamping out diseases and increasing longevity (especially if it is indefinitely) will actually better the human condition, I want to say yes, but humanity will be invariably changed as a result. I love being on the bleeding-edge because I feel with my entire essence that it will change humanity for the better.
So lately I have fixated on my past, I liken this as perhaps my subconscious trying to work something out about “finding my passions”. Plus, recalling what you once did and the like is a gateway to discovering your passions.
The other day I ate something that didn’t agree with me and as a result during the middle of watching a TV show (Pramface) a scene triggered a concept I had long since tucked away. The scene was of a woman about to perform fellatio on her current partner… This is about when my stomach cramps started acting up and when I recalled how I viewed this behavior when I was somewhere between four and six. Subsequently as a result of this trigger my whole world perception was also thrown back to the way I perceived the world at such a young age. The sexual act above that triggered this was in my mind anything but sexual, it was simply just “a show of power”/submission/manipulation. I likened it as wolves have their own dominating/submissive behavioral traits. I only dwelled on this for maybe half a minute but then realized I was “stuck” in this perception.
I’ll admit, I was a bit worried, because when I started thinking about where I am at now in life, I got scared, because the overwhelming feeling was that I had no control over what happened in my life. This is how it was when I was that age. I would wake up, do some things, eat, play, eat some more, then get put to bed. I recall myself as be an observer of my young self, and really I could make choices here and there to try to manipulate the outcome of my day, but overall it was like I could choose to be behaved, choose to intentionally misbehave to get a rise out of my parents, or nothing at all. The observer part of me would recognize patterns, and test a different choice. I found, or this part of me found that little of which I did would result in something ultimately better, or maybe it did. I ended up making many misbehaving choices to get a rise out of my parents. I did this because I didn’t get much notice otherwise, as a result I ended up spending most of my 3-4 year old life in a locked room with little to no entertainment inside the room, until I was sent off for a year to a children’s mental health institution where they diagnosed me with ADHD.
So with preconceived notion that very little of what you do matters and looking throw a wold filter like this, I remember specifically thinking “How will I ever do what I love, how will I ever discover my passions if nothing I do matters.” After musing on this and getting thoroughly freaked out I decided I had enough, convinced myself it was just something I ate and that I should just try to sleep it out. unfortunately 10 minutes after going to the bed I ran to the bathroom and spent the next 20 minutes puking. I went back to bed it was around 7pm, when I woke up the next morning I was fine but I remembered what happened and have thought about it since.
The fact is as a child I really didn’t have much chance to see what my actions and choices could lead too, and growing up with a parent that decided to deal with my ADHD by locking me in a room didn’t help. As an adult, however, and even as I growing up in a better home with my grandparents, I realized my choices and actions do matter, and that they didn’t need to be such to get a rise, though sometimes with the ADHD it felt it couldn’t be avoided.
Regardless of this episode, I think it’s a huge fear people have, maybe even my own: That what you do in this life of yours doesn’t ultimately matter. It’s easy to go from this to a nihilistic lazy lifestyle, I mean why even try if it doesn’t even matter. Well it does matter, It might not be clear how anything gets affected, but you feel the effects–you do something you like, you’re happy. Sometimes that’s enough, but sometimes we feel altruistic and put the world before ourselves, and while we know about the butterfly effect, we really don’t believe somewhere in the universe we really moved a mountain or something such as grand– Or at the very least that we could have done that.
Perhaps this all boils down to belief, seeing proven change, and ultimately what we are looking for out of life. I don’t exactly know what I want out of life, I do want to know that I matter, that I’ve affected others lives for the better. It’s easy to forget the things you have accomplished and slide into depression. For example, its easy to look over family and other relationships. I wish I knew why it was so easy to dismiss family and friends as not having a real impact on their lives, and dreaming of affecting a million lives in some far off land instead. Anyways, I have a belief that I CAN make a difference, I’ve made it with my brother, my wife, ect. Especially with my brother.
When I was in college, I found out that my mother and brother were not doing too well at one point. My mother was set in her ways, As my grandparents would say she never matured past 17. My brother and mother had developed a co-dependence of sorts, my brother was also pulled out of school around grade 8. My brother, however, was only a few years behind me and really I saw he had a chance, like myself, to become something more. I also felt if I didn’t get him out of that situation he may never be truly happy. I thought about this off an on throughout college but really didn’t know how to approach it or deal with it. When I had graduated and been unemployed (degree == job right?) for 4 months, I found out that my brother and mom had it bad enough they moved in with my grandparents out in the boonies instead of Anchorage. It clicked, this was the perfect time to try to make a bold change in my brother’s life. I swooped in, I convinced my brother and mother that I take him back 300 miles to my college home for a week or so and basically just spend time together. Despite having to deal with unemployment and realizing that my “Dad”–My grandfather– had all but gone due to Alzheimers, I ended up showing my brother a life he could have. I remember at one point taking him back home, I told him,”I’ve shown you what I’ve done, and a different way of life than you’ve seen. I know you probably aren’t exactly happy with the life you will be going back to. I will help you. But you have to make the decision and I know [due to your reduced maturity level] it will be hard for you. Tell me what you want and I will help you to the best of my ability to get there. But make damn sure you will be willing to be forced to do things you may be uncomfortable with initially to get there “. He told me he wanted out of his current situation so a week later I brought him into my home, put him on a track to get a GED… that didn’t pan out but we at one point found he could easily get into an associates program, and he started going to college and with my help had rapid maturity gains and classes that actually challenged him, He is now a few classes away from an Associates and looking to get a Bachelors.
I think about how I have seen my brother flourish, and how I helped him do that and I realize I have made a difference this leads me to believe that I can help other people despite all the intrusive thoughts/excuses that counter one to avoid following their passions. Even if you don’t think you’ve ever done anything like this in your life, just think about my story or the millions of stories others have, belief is a powerful tool and all it takes is a bit of faith to make changes.
To wrap up, if I asked my 4-5 year old self what his passions were and or what he could do that he’d love, I believe he would say that all he wanted was to be noticed, to explore beyond the confines of his room he was thrown into so often, and for his actions to make a difference. If I could tell my younger self a few words of advice I’d tell him to believe that his actions do make a difference, especially from day-to-day, to do “good” and it might not be instant but over a few days he should see how his changes change other things in his life, and it should be for the better–and to hang in there.