Despite nearly four decades of communicating verbally, finding the right words to clearly vocalise a non-trivial idea continues to be a struggle. This is especially true when emotion is involved, as this primeval motivator tends to cloud judgement and hinder any ability to formulate a cogent argument for or against an assertion. This would be a failure of Rule 10, be precise in your speech, and it has caused a serious amount of strife over the years. A person who cannot communicate what they want can never attain their goals, but how does one go about correcting the difficulty?
Over the last couple of months I've been writing and rewriting a personal essay1 that tries to outline my ideal future. The basics are easy, as they answer the questions of Who do I want to be?, What do I want to do?, and Where do I want to end up? These are really, really easy to write because I've known the answers for years. What's hard to write about with any degree of depth is another all-important WH-question: Why do you want these things?
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. — Friedrich Nietzsche
Try as I might, the gist of why I want what I want comes down to the fear of being forgotten, but who am I to warrant being remembered?
By most current estimations, there have been roughly 107-billion humans to have ever existed on the Earth and the number that have been remembered for more than three generations can be measured in the tens of thousands. Some names, like Genghis Khan or Mozart, have been remembered for hundreds of years. Others, like Djer or Shǎohào, ruled two of the world's most ancient nations thousands of years before Christianity or Islam existed. These people are remembered because they were worthy of being remembered. Who am I compared to them? I'm just one of 107-billion people who have tried to lead a decent life and provide for my family. Noble goals, indeed, but this is not what I seek. My selfish ego wants something that most people cannot possibly have. It's almost entirely narcissistic and for no justifiable reason.
And this is why I've been rewriting the personal essay so many times. I get to the question of why and hate the answer because it's so absurd that only a psychopath would see it as something worthwhile.
Who do I want to be? A combination of people who have influenced me over the years, of course. I'd like to be as patient and encouraging as Mr. Castle, my high school shop teacher who allowed me the freedom to use school computers at lunchtime to learn about the tools. I'd like to be as engaging and humorous as Mr. Neil, my high school geography teacher who had been teaching for so long that he knew many of my classmates' parents when they were teenagers and he was a fledgling teacher. I'd like to be as understanding and resourceful as Mrs. Laidlaw, my 5th grade homeroom teacher who would do just about anything for her students. I'd like to be as brave as my wife, who will stand up to people regardless of their stature when something is unjust. In some ways I'd like to think that I've succeeded, but there is always room for improvement.
What do I want to do? I want to make something that helps people solve a legitimate problem: self-publishing on the cheap. It's not just blogging, or podcasting, or textbooks, or even video. It's all of these things and then some. We are at a point technologically where anybody in the world can share an idea with the world without a great financial burden, but to do so requires that we give up ownership of our efforts. This is, in my mind, fundamentally wrong. What I want to do is provide the world with the means to very easily, and with as much privacy as desired, publish something online in such a way that the content cannot be removed, altered, or destroyed. I have not even come close to reaching this goal.
Where do I want to end up? In the long-run, I would like to have my body cremated and buried next to Nozomi in the yard of my house, ideally under a tree so that my ashes may provide a brief amount of sustenance to a long-living plant. If Reiko chooses the same, then we can rest together until the boy has us moved or we're recycled completely. Before that, though, I would like to have the luxury to retire at the age of 60 with the financial means to spend the rest of my days volunteering. This would allow for maybe a quarter century to work with others, sharing knowledge, building skills, and encouraging personal growth. The time that I've spent volunteering over the last 17 years has been incredibly rewarding and it would be really nice to have the opportunity to continue doing so. Unlike a regular day job, volunteering offers the chance to do vastly different things on a regular basis. There is no getting bored.
Why do I want these things?
… because I'm selfish.
I'm not sure what else to call a long-form document that is written for me and only me. Personal essay comes closest to what it is, though the thing generally reads as more of a soliloquy than any blog post.