Once upon a time there was a little boy, let’s call him Jake, who lived in a tree house. He was a jolly young chap full of wonder and muscle and such things. But he grew older and died.
However, just before he died, he taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. He said that everything was beautiful, which I naturally shrugged off as the insanity of a dying man in his final spasms of electromagnetic activity, just as most sixteen year olds are wont to do.
Time passed and I nearly forgot all about dear old Jake and the lesson he tried to teach me. I didn’t become any less atheist nor did I become any less devoted to a purely scientific view at life and the world around us. By the time I’d remembered his lesson once more and decided to make it the motto of my life I’d grown to be not so young myself. I had a job, a girlfriend and was hard at work at finding the next big thing.
The day I realised everything was beautiful, nay, the exact moment I figured it out is still sharp in my mind, I can remember it like it was five minutes ago. I’d say like it was yesterday, but I usually have a hard time remembering much about yesterday.
It was a winter evening in Ljubljana and I was on my way from work to a restaurant to have a quick meal. I was pondering over the insane workload I keep putting upon myself and trying to organise the rest of my day between working on a promising pet project, studying for a midterm and working on a different job. Freelancing can be a bitch.
And suddenly I realised how low my head has sunk in this pondering, just how focused on being too busy I was, just how bent on pondering all my troubles away, just how distressed over everything my girlfriend says and does. Why I hadn’t even noticed any of my surroundings, it was like I’d been walking around blind.
So I decided to raise my head, look out of the hole I’d dug. And I saw something wonderful. There was this soft light embracing everything around me, the air was dusky and cold, but the combination of fading sunlight and soft touch of the streetlights made everything around me so sharp, so wonderful, so ... it was gorgeous.
Suddenly I understood all the artsy fartsy pictures budding photographers make, suddenly I saw, truly Saw, what the world looks like. Every shape was special and pronounced, every shadow was wonderfully shaped and every human seemed to buzz by like a blur of uncoordinated thoughts and worries.
It felt like being in one of those shots of discovery, you know, the ones where a person stands in a busy street, looking around with calm, while everyone rushes by in time-lapse motion with just the background standing still and popping out? Well I saw exactly that, a barrage of noise against the beautiful cityscape.
Walking through the buzz I also remembered Jake, his death and his cryptic message. He was thirteen when he died and had just finished reading Orwell’s 1984. It exposed what people were really like, told him that there was no sense in wondering since those in power can make anything true.
Jake discovered that not only do people not care, they don’t want to care and even if they do they won’t do anything about it out of fear of rejection, which is the same as not caring. Jake died that day and now works as an accountant in some big corporation somewhere. Jake hasn’t said anything deep, profound or meaningful since, but is convinced he’s happy because he has a house, a dog, a wife and a car even though he can’t truly See them.
I haven’t seen Jake since he died, but he lives on in my resolution to always take my time to See the world and keep what I’ve left of the boyish wonder and never grow up; no matter what anyone tries to tell you, in growing up you throw away everything that’s worth having and fighting for.
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
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