Friday, April 16, 2021

Make the token count

I have been thinking of the purpose of life since my late 20's. Not sure I got the perfect answer, but I'm reaching a point that I feel comfortable using it to guide my daily life and share with others. 

Instead of purpose, there was a mental shift for me that told me maybe the purpose is not the goal. There is no endgame. From a grand scheme of the universe, time is meaningless. From the recent rapid development of Artificial intelligence, we may all just be in a big simulation. Nothing is real. So then what is the purpose?

When I was little, I used to play those slot machines with my friends. We saved a little bit of money from not buying the snack, and bought the tokens to play instead. If life is similar to a game, then what's important is really the experience and the journey itself. 

So here are my goals for this journey.

1. Build and experience good and deep relationships.

    That's really a big part of why we are born in this world. The relationships with parents, friends, coworkers, lovers, and even a pet, give us comfort and courage when we need them. In Ray Dalio's book Principles, he mentioned what he pursues in life were good work and good relationships. I thought that was too little to ask while there are so many other nice things in life. Now I understand it a little bit better, it can be just this simple. 

2. Maintain the independence of time and space for me to think and live. 

    This is very important to me. I get desperate and anxious if I feel confined, both in life and work. I know I just talked about family and relationships, but that doesn't mean one has to go with the crowd. For a very long time in my life, saying No to others was always hard for me. I worry about disappointing and being disliked by others. But one has to be an independent individual to make himself and others around healthy.  For example, in Adler's theory of Individual Psychology, a lot of troubles come from the relationship with others, especially when they are unbalanced. 

3. Contribute something to this world, even just a tiny bit. 

    Unless one is a Nobel Prize winner or similar, no one would ever remember a person 100 years after he/she dies (who-will-remember-you-in-100-years). Once my life goal was to create some brilliant and perfect programs such that they can still be running on thousands of servers even after I die. That was another form of immortality. Later on, I realized even that cannot last for, say, more than 1000 years. Most of us mean absolutely nothing if we look at things from a slightly bigger picture of the entire human history. But keep in mind life is a journey, and to me, it's always important to do something good. My code might be overwritten by other more talented software engineers in the future, and this is ok. I have done my part of the contribution. 

Nietzsche wrote in one of his books "He who has a 'why' to live can bear almost any 'how' ". If life is a big simulation, then we all paid our token for this round. Make the token count, go out and enjoy.

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