I’ve been working through “What Color is your Parachute,” the manual for getting the most out of your career. I’m focusing on the “flower” exercise in which I decide what are the most important things to me in my work. These are my results from the fourth petal, which asks me about my ultimate goal in life.
When I leave this world, I want to leave it with more access to truth than when I entered it. I believe justice comes from truth, and in truth’s light, corruption and hate wither. To this end, I want more techniques to transform data into true stories and I want fiction to flourish as itself, but struggle to masquerade as truth. I want to use my communication skills and my science and technology skills to achieve this by working with others to create tools that give people stories to understand data and help them distinguish fact from fiction.
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Yesterday I dramatically underestimated how old some folks I knew as children had grown. I figured middle school, but they’re both in 11th grade. Outrageously underestimating the ages of children is what elderly people do. Now in my second quarter-century of existence, I am having a quarter-life crisis.
Now, I’ve heard that as you begin to get older time starts to move more quickly. Given that it seems like a week ago I was just starting at NC State and just yesterday I first met my now girlfriend of almost a year, I imagine that if this process continues consistently, by the time I’m fifty I’ll be seconds away from ninety-nine and then dead. On my deathbed I’ll be telling the nurse “I feel like I was being born just five minutes ago.”
I also am beginning to get ailments that doctors just say I’ll have to put up with for the rest of my life. Well, one. I got my first “floater” a little while back. It’s just a little dot that hangs around on my eye and gets in the way, especially when I’m working on my computer. Apparently they’re normal at only 26, but it took me a while not to feel existential dread about my inevitable demise every time it appeared in my vision. I suppose a crucial part of aging gracefully is coming to accept each new manifestation of my physical form’s slow, inexorable decay as it comes.
So, now it’s time for me to get serious about my life goals. Clearly I don’t have much time left, so I’ve got to start achieving them, pronto! That means I have to define these goals. Here they are roughly in no particular order:
- Satisfaction and security in my career
- Love and mutual support in my relationship
- Being the change I want to see in the world
- Some form of self-expression through my writing
- A community that will not be mostly dead when I’m even older than I am now
The key of the last one is to avoid being alone in old age without having to have children, which are a drag on at least four of my five life goals as presented here. I suspect this can be accomplished with the proper intergenerational community involvement. In any case, I’ve got to get to work on it! Who knows how fast the years will start flying by?