пятница, 1 августа 2014 г.
I was pretty fortunate to be born in the middle of summer as this gives me two very well defined and perfectly positioned points in a year when I am willing to reflect on the results of recent months. In January everyone’s year ends to give way to a new one and in July my own age gets incremented – both events suit well for peeking into past and future. So, a couple weeks ago I turned 25 and this somehow made me think about what does it mean to get older apart from the fact that every year you have to tell different numbers when answering a question “How old are you?”
I mean I am not a complete idiot an I know that over the time of my existence the Earth has done roughly 25 full circles around the Sun, cells in different parts of my body died off and got replaced with new ones many times and all that stuff. In other words, something changed in the world and something changed in me as well: I used to be an infant, then a little boy, then kept growing larger and stronger and now I am this guy with a laptop in a park. I also know that from this point on I will likely grow weaker – not stronger, not until I put some serious effort into avoiding this. Still, physiological aging feels as boring as it is inevitable.
Being a bit more intelligent than a rock, I also acknowledge that there is a social aspect to aging. When I was born I wasn’t actually a member of any society at all and was hardly capable of being one. I gradually started interacting with my parents and other family members and being a part of a small group of people. After learning some stuff from them as well as other guys of my age one day I became eligible to enter a larger community – an elementary school. From there I advanced to the high school, then university – both of them taught me some crucial skills and knowledge making me potentially valuable for Humanity. Finally, somewhere close to the 7th of 6 years of my study at the university I learned that I can not only consume what society gives me, but also give something back. That’s when I took my first part-time job in software development. A year ago I finished study at the university and working as a programmer became my fulltime activity, so that I moved a bit closer to the production side of the consumption-production gauge. This is certainly a very important aspect of aging, yet the same as the biological part of the matter it doesn’t seem interesting.
Continuing the search for the “essence of aging”, I also remember of responsibilities: the older one gets the more responsibilities they are supposed to carry. Until some time you have only to be doing what others tell you, so you are only responsible for not breaking the simple rules they set for you. Later, one takes the new, sometimes less clear responsibilities associated with study or job. Furthermore, one may take responsibilities for others' well-being and well-fare when they get married and give birth to children. So, the general idea is that children are responsible for nothing, while grown-ups are in charge of everything and that’s what I was taught in school and elsewhere. Even though I believe that’s true – to the extent anything about the way human society functions can be true – that’s not something that I have been facing a lot during the recent years. I mean I did get new responsibilities when starting to work as a developer or when obtaining the driver’s license, but all these feel so natural that it is hard to define aging in these terms.
What does seem to be essential to aging for me is learning and, most importantly, learning that most things won’t do themselves. Learning itself is crucial and it is often true that the older you get the more you learn – sometimes that’s what makes you capable of going further. Still, it just happens to come along with aging. On the other side, understanding that some things are just not going to happen the way you want them until you push them hard into the desired direction comes to me as a manifestation of the fact that I am getting older.
There are plenty of examples of how this simple idea might jump at one here and there. For instance, long ago the laces on my shoes used to get tied properly without any help from me. Later the magic vanished and I discovered that one has to put effort to get out of home without losing their shoes. Something very similar happens with keeping shoes clean – for some time while you are trying to accustom yourself with the laces, magic keeps cleaning your shoes, but later it evaporates as well. You notice that shiny footwear becomes bleak and dusty, dirt sticks to it and doesn’t go away overnight any more. This way every year one sees some magic being drained away from their world.
This thought is not something original or new, but it struck me this year. I mean my parents stopped cleaning my shoes long ago – that’s other things that drew my attention to it. For example, I always used to be a very slim person. During some periods of my life this was supported by my attempts to do running consistently, but even when I was much less physically active I remained slim and hardly seen any body fat. However, the situation changed dramatically about a year ago. Somehow, after I took my current position and started to work full-time at the office my body began to build up fat. I don’t fully understand why did this happen – the amount of physical activity didn’t change much between the university and the job. One of the reasons may be that my life became more determined than a couple years ago when I had much more options for where to sit with a laptop and study and when to change the place. Anyway, some months ago I noticed that I got much fatter than I have ever been before and that my body is not going to remain slim or fit without some help from me anymore.
I also made similar discoveries closer to the software development field. While I already knew that code doesn’t write itself (although, there is meta-programming!), it turned out that there is still some place for surprise. My Windows Phone development adventures taught me one thing for sure: the products that I make won’t market themselves – not until I put significant effort into making them stand out and forcing potential customers to see them. Put in other words, my customers won’t come to me until I reach out and find them. So, basically nothing is going to happen by itself in terms of distributing and marketing my products – I have to do something to show them, explain them and sell them.
All these “discoveries” of things, which I believed to be driven by magic, but which can actually be driven only by me, do feel obvious. At the same time I’m pretty sure I will have a lot more of them in future. None of them is too difficult to predict now – almost everything that I might rely on will one day require some payment from me and stop working silently the way I am used to. However, like with shining shoes, testing my code and marketing my apps, I will definitely be very surprised by each and every thing that didn’t seem to need any help to get done but suddenly starts to do so when I get a little bit older.