I'm a designer of technology.
A while back, I took it upon myself to learn programming from first principles, with the goal of becoming a designer-software-engineer who could build his own products and start-ups.
But I've recently had the insight that, while on my adventure learning to code, the product I'm building is my blog. In turning myself into a software engineer, I'm falling in love with explaining technology. In retrospect, this is no surprise to me, this is what I've always done; make sense of complex things and explain them.
It's taken me a while to admit it, but I love explaining technology, especially to non-technical people. I'm often caught in conversation, explaining the magic of procedural abstraction, how functions are a great mental model outside of programming, and how computers are more than what they seem.
I have learned and re-learned the principles of programming from different schools of thought. I keep coming back to the finish line only to begin again ever more fascinated with it.
Maybe I'll still become a software or artificial intelligence engineer. Maybe I'll still end up at Stanford or MIT as an adult student. But right now, I'm compelled to articulate the magic I see in programming for the friends and relatives I'm often in conversation with; the adult who believes he's just not a math person, or the grandma who grew up fascinated with computers. I believe there is a way to capture the magic of code and reframe it as a new way of thinking.
I've awakened to the idea that my blog may be my start-up. I've jotted down three guiding principles for this possibility:
1. Write to the beginner and the non-technical person.
2. Explain things as clearly as possible, through crystal clear language and visual design.
3. Never regurgitate facts, but understand them deeply enough to articulate them from a place of experience.
I'm not the obvious choice for the task; I was tortured into getting good grades in math, I dropped out of fine-arts school, I have a BA in fashion design, and most of my skillset is self taught; yet, I'm compelled to tell this story.
I'm writing this post, not as a proclamation, but as a time capsule, an admission of my own interests, no matter how big or small, to revisit in a distant future.
Ballet is beautiful because of the opposing tension in a contorting body. It seems as if the leg is twisting to the left, but it is also, in fact, moving toward the right. A comedian's joke is funniest when delivered with deadpan seriousness; it's her seriousness that makes it funny. A piece of art is captivating when it's both familiar and foreign. We're drawn by what seems almost like...but not quite.
This ambiguity also exists in our intimate reality; we have contradicting personality traits, our interests are at odds, our goals collide. Some days we wake up painters, on other days, poets and scientists.
My intuition tells me that these nonsensical contradictions might be what makes life beautiful—as it does ballet, a joke, or a piece of art. I find this possibility invigorating. When my day feels confusing and my interests unruly, I tell myself: embrace ambiguity.
It's when I'm preoccupied with who I think I am that I run out of moves. It's like mistaking a tree for the forest. I am the forest, not a tree. Jung says, "since the growth of personality comes out of the unconscious, which is by definition unlimited, then personality cannot be limited either."
I finally grab a pen and just make a drawing because there is nothing else to do. I make a drawing, not to advance my practice, nor to define myself, nor to grow, but to just make.
A reminder that I is a lot bigger than Frank.
What is it about being alone at a coffee shop—about being alone in public, anonymous amidst an audience of strangers? Perhaps, between the anonymity and exposure, we're free to lose a little of who we are and invent a little of what we can become.
The experience of looking down and seeing myself in space and in time. Thirty-three, at this particular beach, surrounded by strangers, each one in our own story. I look up and I see the moon, a reminder that we're floating in space in a small planet. That is a day at the beach.
I feel anxious when I don't draw. If enough time goes by I'll inevitably end up feeling this tingling discomfort. It's easy to overlook where I am and natural the passing of time. For a week to go by as if it had barely happened, for January to have been yesterday. The antidote I keep coming back to is art. To grab a pen, write down the time and place, and acknowledge, with seeing eyes, where I am.