Victus Spiritus


We're Doomed, Tragically Flawed, and Vulnerable, So What

03 Jun 2011

The Dwindling Resource

What we do today matters because we affect change in others, in ourselves, and in the world around us. Yet there will come a day for each and every one of us when there is no tomorrow. Life is defined by its precious nature, and time is our most scarce resource. Our days are numbered, and ever dwindling. So what!


"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you" Joseph Heller

There are safe bets, and there are big risks, but no prediction engine in existence survives contact with the relentless wave of the present. We're living a single trial, so how do the odds help us play von Neumann's game? There are no sure things in this existence but this moment. And yet there are infinitely many moments. Now is the gift that keeps on giving.

Because we are guaranteed of having frailties1, we may as well learn to live with them. We're vulnerable. We're flawed. So What!

I'm not saying that everyone should take self destructive risks with little or no upside. What I am suggesting is that the turtle strategy to life is far from ideal. To be frank:

It sucks.

We can run and hide only so long from our spirit of adventure, before it irrevocably atrophies. Once bereft of our inspiration we are left as withered husks, destined never to reach our glorious potential. So what!

I'm intimately familiar with the downside of impact bias. I've made plenty of cowardly decisions based on hedging bets, and missed out on countless grand adventures that will never be. I've allowed fear of failure to paralyze me from taking action, and will do so again. So what!

The Limit Break

The past few weeks I've had my back up against the wall with an intense project at my day job. It's left scarce energy for fun and side projects, and the upside is if all goes well I may have more of the same to look forward to without any other "benefit". Every weekday leaves me exhausted, and by the time I get home I'm mentally drained.

The work isn't all bad, I've revisited c++'s STL structures after nearly a decade and learned a little about the Boost library. But there is far too much mental overhead with straightforward tasks. It took two hours to add the team's preferred Gaussian random number generator today, which is a one liner in my standard toolkit. Compile time is a beast, with a regular 30 minutes for a rebuild2. Unfortunately I haven't yet found success in hacking a glorious feedback loop into my paying gig (work harder/smarter != win).

I continue to steal moments like this where I'm walking outside in the sun and gathering my thoughts, but I don't have the reserves of focus to continue being productive at night. Today I had a limit break, said fuck it around 2:30pm, and took off for a walk on this gorgeous day. I'll probably get some flak next week for a buggy, feature limited project that only runs on windows. So What!. This beautiful moment is all mine.


  1. As to guaranteed frailties, here's another: self contradictions. I just mentioned there are no sure things but this moment ;).
  2. As to the evil compile time: Why am I rebuilding? Includes which describe plugin interfaces are in high up places, plus my own local hack to integrate our local libraries includes several directories worth of files in the build path.