Tuesday, 3/20/01

I remember reading some author's account of his first breakup. I really wish I could find it now, but unfortunately I have no idea who it was or where I read it. The passage was something along the lines of, "I was 23 years old, and in my youthful naivety, I was convinced that I would never love again. Sure enough, a few months later, I met a girl and [blah blah happy fally-in-lovey stuff]." Yeah, well... screw your wisdom, grandpa. I'm 23 years old, and I'm never going to love again.

So, anyway.... A recent creeping expedition unearthed this interesting diatribe against ego. It is noteworthy here because, well, it stands in complete contrast to the motivation behind this website and my philosophy in general. Stew says, "People like you because of who you are, not because of what you've done." But to me, somebody's accomplishments demonstrate who they are. For one thing, they reveal the person's ideals -- they show what the person finds important enough to spend time on. I would think that common ideals would be a cornerstone of a close friendship.

But I believe that accomplishments also reveal a person's personality, or at least the personalities that I personally am interested in. I like inventive, creative people. Not only do I appreciate their works, but I also enjoy being around them. I like the way they think. And it just happens that inventive, creative people tend to create things, simply as a byproduct of being "who they are". By viewing the accomplishments of one of these people, at worst I can get a feel for their personality, and at best, I will discover someone who likes making the same things that I do. The result of such a discovery would not be competition, as Stew claims, but admiration or even collaboration. Mutual enjoyment.

I like the poem that Stew quotes, but I disagree with its message, or at least his intent in quoting it. He uses it to belittle the notion of accomplishment itself, implying that all achievement is transitory and all greatness fades away. But I look around me right now, and I don't see a desert. I see a monument to the immortality of accomplishment. Everything I see here -- books, CDs, the CD player, the computer, the chair, the window, even the structure of the room itself -- all these things were people's accomplishments. I look at these things, and I see thousands of years of technological evolution, nudged along at each step only by man's desire to create. Every action I can possibly take in this room, even just sitting here with the expectation that the floor won't cave in, justifies the life's work of thousands of people, living and dead. To me, these people are the kings of kings. And when I look on their works, I am in awe. Even if this place were to become a desert right now, their accomplishments would still be justified, because they affected my life.