Becoming an explorer again 28 Sep 2012
The more I learn the more I find I don’t know and the more I find I don’t know the more eager I am to learn. I’ve been in this cycle as it pertains to software development for over a decade and I now just assume it goes on ad infinitum. I’m okay with this.

Along the way I had a surprising relevation about myself. It wasn’t a good one either. It was actually a really dissappointing one (at least at first). For the past few years I had this on and off nagging feeling about something I couldn’t put my finger on, then one day, it revealed itself to me: the things I didn’t know.

It was a feeling where you swallow so hard it hurts and you feel your heart sink into your stomach. I felt like I had been doing whole number arithmetic knowing about geometry and algebra (which were next) only to discover calculus and physics ahead – and that there were fractional/real/imaginary numbers behind and below.

This was depressing to say the least. You think you’re exploring the entire mountain only to realize you’re on the tip of an iceberg and suddenly you realize you haven’t accomplished nearly as much as you had thought. At least that’s what it felt like and needless to say, I wanted to kick myself for never once peeking beneath the surface.

I needed to binge.

Some people binge drink or binge eat. Not me. I binge read. You can tell by the umpteen books I carry to and fro work, the multiple stacks of books beside my bed, the countless magazines and books strewn throughout my home and office. Some people crave chocolate, I crave words.

Binge reading led me to another discovery: understanding more clearly what I didn’t know. I had felt like an explorer in a land that lacked light. It was impossible to explore because I couldn’t see a damn thing. Now, I felt like an explorer in a land with a little light. I couldn’t make out the entire landscape, but I could make out enough to begin exploring and to understand what I was exploring. The more I understood the more light that was afforded to me.

I’ve been a renewed explorer for a little while now. It feels really good to begin to understand and articulate concepts and interactions that I once failed to find words for or that I simply never knew existed. I look forward to deeply exploring the landscape this craft in hopes that I can build people and systems to the best of my abilities and potential.

This is probably my umpteenth time embarking on an exploration related to my craft. This time around it feels different. Previous times I always lacked an understanding or an experience so I would explore and learn in order to apply new things for the first or second time. But now I have the a lot of experiential understanding to see how all of these concepts and abstractions interact, co-exist, or compete together.

New-fangled things will be sacrificed as there’s not enough time in the day to do everything. And I’m really good at learning the shallow aspects of new-fangled things. Now, it’s time to spend the time and dedication really taking in the underlying concepts beneath all of the fundamental notions I often take for granted.

The next leg of my journey: to deepen my knowledge of concepts related to software development from the past 40 years. Wish me luck, here I go.

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