Thoughts in a Coffee Shop
The year is 2018 and its just after Thanksgiving. I’m in a coffee shop with my beautiful girlfriend, Kara. She’s sitting across from me typing away on her laptop and I’m looking around the busy parlor.
Outside the crowds are just as thick. Christmas lights have grown all over the trees and the spirit of Black Friday is still in the air. I’m tempted to hunt Amazon for the last deals that didn’t get clubbed down by the Holiday mob. But I’m not sure what I want to splurge on this year.
The PS4 Spiderman Bundle is all the rage this year; a $199 console that seems more of a bait and switch tactic than an actual item offered for sale. I’ve given some thought to getting one, but I’m not sure that is what I’m after. I already have a console. It’s a first Gen XBOX ONE.
Then there’s the Amazon Alexa products. Most are half off right now. I foolishly bought an Echo Dot at full price a few days earlier. Maybe I should get another one? They’re pretty good.
Kara looks up from her intense studying to ask if I’m okay. I am; just deep in thought. I’ve taken up the task of writing this post as a way to pass the time. Now I’m immensely occupied with it.
There’s no real point for it. I’m writing simply to pass the time. Just like life. Each day is here and it’s up to us what we do with it. Some ask why we’re here and others just enjoy the ride. I’m a little of both.
I don’t necessarily ask why I’m here. For me, I’m just glad to be alive. I just wish it didn’t have to end. I greatly enjoy living. My questions are about what to do with the short life I have.
I recognize this moment in the coffee shop to be a gift. There are many who are six feet under as I type. They’ll never have the opportunity to sit at one of these tiny tables and listen to another folksy pop song that’s playing in the background.
Those who think about this too much generally conclude with a pressing need to leave a mark on the world. To do or create something that lasts long after they’re gone. Like an echo that keeps a part of them alive.
For me at this moment, my echo is this blog and all the social media profiles I’ve created. They’ll likely remain active for a considerable time after I’m away. Assuming they don’t all get shutdown like Formspring or Vine.
When a website gets bought out, like Flickr, some new CEO will come up with the bright idea that the way the site was running wasn’t for the best and inevitably that’ll mean some inactive accounts get deleted. Likely that will be one of mine in the future.
Unlike blogs and social media profiles, stories have a better shot at holding up to the test of time. Stories like Robin Hood, Peter Pan, Moses, and the Great Gatsby echo through the halls of time; being reprinted and retold in new creative ways.
Not every story is so lucky, but if there were a surefire way to leave your mark on the world, writing a story is the best way to go. Physical items breakdown and fade. Profiles are deleted, books deteriorate, but the idea, the story is something that lives on. It jumps between books, screens and lips as it is rewritten, remade, and retold.
I should have paid a little more attention in my high school literature class. Maybe I would have learned what it took to become a renowned author?
The truth about renowned authors though is that they didn’t go to school to acquire their talent. They wrote and crammed their manuscripts into their desk; not to be published until after their death. I do not believe they tried to be great, but were discovered as great long after they could appreciate their following.
The problem with idolizing Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, and others is that we focus too much on being great like them without realizing that their journey to greatness was by accident. Greatness is a naturally occurring phenomenon. One must pursue their own desires and if it happens to be recognized, then great! But, one may never know as his recognition will likely come long after he is gone.
One shouldn’t concern himself with being great. It is a disappointing occupation. Instead one should live life and enjoy pursuing whatever brings happiness.
For me that is learning and being creative. Blogging, photography, video editing, graphic design, virtual machines, automation, the practical application of computers…
My pursuits haven’t become a sport yet. There’s a gaming league, piano recitals, auctions for great paintings, Best Seller lists for books, but for what I do; there is none. Not yet anyway.
My joy comes when I use the knowledge that took me over a decade to obtain to answer someone’s question on the spot. The journey of how I came to know the answer is the grand prize.
Maybe some day there will be a Jeopardy for how to do anything on the computer. A prompt might be: “Make this book searchable.” The answer will be: “Scan the book, use a software with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to make the text searchable, and save as a PDF.”
The song has changed in the coffee shop. It’s more upbeat. I’ve never heard the song before; the impulse to ask Siri what it is, is very strong. I cave in, but Siri cannot distinguish the song from the boisterous chatter.
Some one is making a startup pitch in the background. My ears are tuning in. But, I can’t make out what they’re saying. For now, their grand idea is safe.
Startups, I remember when I was first introduced to the concept. They sounded really cool. A work place that let you wear shorts and flip flops; work with an air hockey table within reach. Late nights and pizza. That sounded like the good life.
I outgrew the idea once I needed a steady income. The problem with startups is they’re for startup professionals. Kids fresh out of college who have few expenses to hold them back from working for free. That description is gradually not fitting me anymore.
I’m not the corporate type yet. I love discussing business problems from 30,000 feet as they like to say; but I do not enjoy the rigor of foregoing holidays and working long hours on other people’s projects.
It’s different when it’s my project. A project I want to work on. I have no problem working long hours on something I want to do, but when it’s not what I want to do… my time is valuable. I won’t have the energy to pursue my project after hours. I am only human. I must sleep.
If life were infinite I’d serve my time to earn the right to pursue my own projects, but since it’s not. I must have a work-life balance. The life part is working on my own projects. Those projects end up benefiting whatever company I end up working for anyway.
It’s my own projects that lead me to great discoveries. Those discoveries are the ones that give me the through answer to your question. The personal life is practice.
I encourage you to find something worth practicing. Something that interests you to the point of almost being addicted. Like blogging. Maybe not like blogging. That may not be you. You might be a amateur carpenter, so go for it!