I mentioned in my last post that one reason why rapid prototyping would work for life is that “very little in life is irreversible”. Some people might disagree with that assumption. For example, I just moved all the way across the country, leaving behind friends and family, which is a fairly drastic move. But, as one of my friends pointed out when I was considering this move, the worst thing that happens is that I hate New York or hate my job, and I move back to the Bay Area in a year. What would I have lost? Spending time with friends. Maybe some job opportunities. The lost year would be irreversible, but the time would not have been spent poorly – it would have been an investment in understanding myself.
I’m more relaxed about this move than others might be because I’ve demonstrated that my really strong connections persist across space and time. I had one friend who didn’t consider anybody a best friend who she didn’t see in person one-on-one every couple weeks. I just don’t understand that. My best friends are the ones who get me in some ineffable way, whose attitude and outlook “click” with mine. And my connection with those friends just grows stronger. As of this fall, I will have known my little tribe of TEPs for half my life, which is somewhat remarkable to me. Especially since a lot of those people are still such big parts of my life, despite us being scattered all over the country. That’s partially a tribute to the power of cheap long distance phone calls, the internet, and affordable air travel, but partially a sign of how much those particular people mean to me.
One of the biggest confirmations for me of the “click” theory of friendship was my road trip a few years ago. I flew to Boston, rented a car, and then spent most of the next three weeks driving back across the country, staying with friends all along the way. I hadn’t seen some of these people more than once in the nine years since I left MIT. And I really enjoyed seeing how their lives had turned out, and what amazing, interesting people they still were – we had these great conversations discussing our lives and philosophies. It was startling to me to find out how congruent our outlooks were despite not having communicated much if at all with some of these people in the previous nine years. It was a stark contrast to my ten year high school reunion, where once I heard where everybody ended up, I didn’t really have anything more to say to them – we had nothing in common.
So moving away from friends is not the irreversible step it might appear to be at first glance. The ones I’m close to, I’ll stay in touch with. We’ll talk on the phone, exchange emails or blog posts, and fly out to see each other. Other friendships might fade, to be replaced by new ones that I make in New York. There’s some horrible metaphor of friendship as being composed of roots and questing tendrils, but I can’t quite put it together, so I’ll leave it.
The one thing in life that is irreversible is time. We don’t get time back. If anything, that was a point in favor of moving for me. My career path forward as a programmer was easily forecast: a couple more years as a developer, shifting gradually towards management, then working my way up the corporate ladder someplace. That was fine, I could do it, but I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted. And staying on that track out of fear of change would have been a waste of my irreplaceable time – a mistake I had already made once by sticking with physics at least three years too long.
This way, at least I’m trying new things and perhaps discovering what I should be doing with my life. Or at least crossing things I don’t want to be doing off the list. Either way I learn something about myself, which is always a wise investment. More on this tomorrow, or whenever I get a chance to blog again.