When I die, what is the narrative I will have lived? What will I have done to have lived a full life? To craft a future narrative and to act on it enables it to come about. Without a goal one will be chosen for you (how many of chosen ‘Defeat Trump’ instead of ‘my-own-rational-goal’?) One has a degree of control over their own telos, and deciding where our time points is imperative!
I had narrowed down my narrative to two paths: one which contributes to the total knowledge of the world through engineering achievement (shorthand: becoming a great engineer), and one in which I try to build a very specific type of community for a (planned) family.
Path 1: Great Engineer⌗
Three years ago I decided to take seriously the task of following in the shoes of engineering legends like Claude Shannon or Richard Hamming. The achievement I wanted to be known for was creating some form of engineered life, a true artificial intelligence. Creating the next step to beyond-man, being a part of the road beyond H. sapiens… I think that will happen, and it’s a lineage I want to be a part of.
Anyway, it turns out that this is a hard thing to do. You may have been able to guess this without researching the topic for three years. Still: I have the desire to re-double my efforts in this area post-surgery.
Path 2: Great Community⌗
Path 2 goes like this:
- Over the next 2-3 years I get married and build capital.
- With like-minded people, build co-located housing [either at a small scale or spread out over a town or w/e] in some rural area. I’d like a creek and some trees for
memy kids to play in.
- Ideally, perform labor with my hands. Raise permaculture food, fix what needs fixing, work with wood and metal – build physical things that are used by people I love and care about.
- Do that for awhile, die
There is a grounded quality to manual labor lacking in abstract “knowledge work,” the sense of continuity between self and what-is-worked-on. Improvement in the former is tactile: the plant looks better, the engine does not clank, the finished wood is smoother and shinier. Better quality over larger quantity, that deification of number-go-up.
The second path has an innate appeal to me, but I couldn’t shake off a feeling that I’d be giving up something important to me. Spending time on that path meant delaying progress down the great engineer path, and that meant lowering the chance of a fine success. Except… I realized that feeling was a defense mechanism. What I would actually be giving up is an excuse to download another PDF instead of attempting to go out and connect with others.
One thing is quite obvious about the greats: they never do it alone. What the family path really represents to me is building the skills necessary to be embedded in the community. That means facing my fears of interacting with people, fears that are founded on long-past experiences.
Actually: walking down both paths maximizes the chance of success along both paths. A community is necessary for fine intellectual contributions. A strong personal drive towards engineering achievement bolsters a drive towards other people.
The plan then: put 2 days a week towards intellectual pursuits, 2 days a week into hobbies (woodworking, gardening), 2 days into becoming more social, and 1 day of rest.