Sunday, December 13, 2009

Doing what you love

The wife recently linked to an essay by Paul Graham titled How to Do What You Love.

He's an awesome writer and reading his writing is almost always inspiring, and definitely always thought provoking. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

Unproductive pleasures pall eventually. After a while you get tired of lying on the beach. If you want to stay happy, you have to do something.

All parents tend to be more conservative for their kids than they would for themselves, simply because, as parents, they share risks more than rewards. If your eight year old son decides to climb a tall tree, or your teenage daughter decides to date the local bad boy, you won't get a share in the excitement, but if your son falls, or your daughter gets pregnant, you'll have to deal with the consequences.

"Always produce" is also a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to that constraint, it will automatically push you away from things you think you're supposed to work on, toward things you actually like. "Always produce" will discover your life's work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof.

and finally:

Finding work you love is very difficult.

BUT - he misses an important point. I don't think that Finding Work You Love should be a life goal in and of itself. How absurd to constrain your happiness in such a limited way!

The only point of Finding Work That You Love is to experience it and, from it, learn how to love doing everything - from the most mundane to the "extraordinary".

I'm pretty sure I love programming. But I have a strong hunch that it's not the programming I love, but just that it happens to make it easy for me to express creativity, make something beautiful, and work towards perfection.

Now if only I could transfer that sense of craftsmanship into doing my taxes...