Maybe it’s just me, but I really liked Henry’s April 7th entry. Really liked it. Probably because I identify with a lot of it. Like wondering how an atheist can live. I’ve thought similar stuff, written about some of it, like here. But yeah, I totally agree. I dunno, I have a lot of thoughts about it.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I watched the movie Parenthood recently and it really impacted me. There was one part of the movie where Steve Martin is going through this career crisis and he doesn’t know what to do. He’s worked his entire life to get to a certain point, and if that doesn’t happen, what the heck does he do?
That made me think a lot. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, to be perfectly honest. So I started thinking about if I’ll ever reach that point, where in the middle of my life I’ll be wondering what the heck I’m doing, and be unable to do anything else.
I guess I think about this because I have no idea where my career path leads up to. I have pretty much zero ambition. It’s sad, but true. It’s good in a certain sense, in that I’m perfectly happy, maybe happy’s the wrong word, more content, doing whatever. Like right now, I’m programming, and I’m completely fine with it. I’m not passionate about it, but I’m not passionately against it either, I’m perfectly content, even if not completely settled.
The thing is, I look around my company, and granted, it’s not a typical company, but there aren’t a whole lot of old engineers. So, where do they all go? Where do the ducks in the pond go in the winter? The impression I get is that they move on to other stuff, like development managing or other managerial positions. But, I have zero desire to be a manager of any sort, and zero desire to go into the business aspects of whatever. I’m fine just being a peon engineer.
But I just feel like that’s something I can’t do, that the way the system is, I have to move on to something else, you know? That’s probably not strictly true, but whatever, I know nothing about business.
Side note. I truly do know nothing about business, and have about zero desire to know. I was talking to a strategic consultant last night, and it was amazing to me how much information was at his fingertips and how little of it I cared about, even when it involved my company. It was weird – I was saying how all I really know (and care about) is that my company is going to “win”, and he was surprised by my “loyalty”. Which in turn surprised me. Yeah, I want my company to do well, but that doesn’t strike me as being particularly “loyal” – it’s just much preferable to the alternative, you know? I guess it was just a constrast from his own job, and that’s what struck me. I don’t know, that type of consulting just strikes me as being dispassionate and a little sad. But, whatever, like I said, I hate business.
Anyway, if I stay an engineer forever, will I reach some point in my life where I’m just wondering why the heck I’m doing what I’m doing and not be able to do anything else? Or if I have to move forward to something, what the heck am I moving towards? Should that affect what I’m doing now?
Does this make sense? I’m perfectly happy not moving forward, but I feel like, the way the system is, I have to move forward, and that affects what I feel like I should be doing now. So it’s like, the potential decisions/career crises I might have to face in the future is making me have a mini-career crisis now.
I guess what it comes down to is that I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. My dream is something with music but I go back and forth on that one, just because making it in music is to a large extent random, and also because I kind of feel like I have other gifts that should be utilized in some way.
Most recently, I’ve been thinking about going back to school. Our group went out to lunch a while ago and I found out that many of the people at the table had PhDs, and I got their perspective on things. Every one of them was glad they got it – a common sentiment was, if they hadn’t done it then, they never would have done it, and there’s just this feeling of pride and accomplishment associated with it. Another coworker, whom I respect a lot, also was saying how he plans to go back to school to get his.
So, it made me think a lot. I dunno, I think I’m gonna go back to school in 3 or 4 years. The thing is, I have no idea what to study. I could do A.I. But there’s a bunch of other things I’m interested in. Like Philosophy. I don’t know, that Schaeffer book just convinced me that maybe philosophers have the most impact on our culture, whether we realize it or not, and I’ve done really well in my philosophy classes, and I like it. Who knows. But yeah, I’m 90% sure I’m going back to school for something.
But the bigger issue that’s been on my mind is exactly what Henry was talking about. Why the heck we do anything that we do. And like him, I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that for most of us. Life until now was so easy, just being in school, and it’s why staying in school or going to grad school is so tempting. Just, your goals are all defined for you. You study as an undergrad (or any point before that) to get into a good school, then later to get a good job. The answer to why you do what you do, and why you should do it well is there for you. It’s preparation for some clearly defined goal.
I think the reason I’m going to mini-crisis right now is because I’m starting to reach the point where there’s no more preparation, if that makes sense, so what I do needs to be justified on some other terms. I think it’s the same thing Henry’s going through. Like, why do we work? You can justify it however, but it just leads to a cycle where those goals are questioned and so forth that never ends satisfactorily. Or you could give other justifications, like to witness, but that’s not compelling either, because if that’s the primary purpose of working, there are better ways to do it. I guess that’s what it is: I need to know what the primary purpose of working is, and the answer to that isn’t as easy as with anything I’ve done up to now, because it’s not a preparation for anything.
Does this make sense? It’s just, up until this point in my life, I could pretty much justify why I should do something by saying it’s preparation. This applies to almost anything in my life, be it studying, or learning an instrument, or a foreign language, or any skills, anything like that. I do that because it will prepare me for the next stage in my life.
But like, the preparation thing doesn’t fly as well anymore. I was watching the Tao of Steve, and the main character is this complete slacker who spouts this life philosophy (for which the movie is named) and pretty much does nothing. He works part time as a preschool teacher, something like that, because that’s all the money he really needs. And this girl doesn’t understand that, and asks him, don’t you want to do more? Like have a career or learn a foreign language or something.
And that just made me think. Like, what’s the point of doing that? Why pursue a career or learn a language? What’s the point? It’s not really preparation for anything. And it’s not something he needs. So then why?
I don’t know, what I’m thinking right now is that I’m starting to reach a point where I have to start doing things because it is good to do those things in and of themselves. Not everything, but some things. Like, I want to learn to play drums. There’s no real purpose or need for that, it’s not for the sake of some other goal, like spreading the gospel, but it’s still fine and good to do.
Maybe that’s a bad example. But even with like work. Like, right now I don’t buy that the purpose of me working is to spread the gospel. Just, if that were the primary purpose, it’s highly ineffectual. I could do a much better job with it, even to the same people, if I didn’t have to do so much work, or didn’t have to work at all. So if that’s really my primary purpose in working, I should really just quit my job.
But I don’t think that’s right – I think when it comes down to it, God wants us to work partly because there’s just an inherent good in being a good faithful worker, and that’s something that pleases God. I don’t know, God’s given us certain attributes which lead us to certain jobs, and we need to be faithful to that, and that is good in God’s eyes, I think. So I think (at least for now) that increasingly, a lot of the answers to why I should do whatever is “for God”. Just that, there’s some inherent good in doing those things. Unless you’re a corporate lawyer.
But yeah, like Henry kind of said, that answer is at least to me intellectually satisfying but only that – it doesn’t motivate me enough to really be a better worker or whatever. So, I’m not quite sure what to do.
Uh, pretty boring entry. Sorry it wasn’t so great. Great meaning large or immense – I mean it in the pejorative sense.