One of the folks i work with is saying goodbye. It happens from time to time, and in this era of self-publication, he posted his reasons on his blog a while ago. It's rather charming and i know how he feels, because i felt the same way.
Then i realized the truth.
One of the comments that always makes me giggle a little are statements like "i'm afraid that i'm going to wake up in X years and realize i've been doing the same job and still haven't accomplished anything of lasting value." i can tell you that after nearly thirty years, i've done three different jobs and haven't accomplished anything of lasting value. i've done some impressive things, worked on a lot of cool projects, and i'd like to believe i've made the world a better place. None of this, however is of any lasting value.
i will be dead in less than fifty years. Within another decade or so i'd expect only a handful of individuals will remember my name. i have no legacy to carry my memory, nor fame or fortune to impress those that come after. i have yet to discover a cure for cancer, faster than light travel, or a guaranteed method to get a parking spot in San Francisco. No continent bears my name, nor insect, nor disease, nor truism. i will take my place in history next to the likes of Mynard Green Foot who raised sheep in the 11th Century and exists today purely in my depression fueled imagination.
And i'm ok with that.
Turns out that one can go quite mad when one strives to beat out the other eight billion currently living human beings, the previous 7 billion or so that walked before, and the potential trillions to come. So i strive to make things better for the few lives that i can. It's a more manageable goal that doesn't end in a nuclear arms race or divorce court.
i've come to realize that progress comes through reimplementing ideas, but in a slightly better form. This is also called evolution, and it has an impressively long history. It's also one of the reasons i laugh at companies that forbid anyone from examining what they're doing. They're setting up their code as an evolutionary dead end.
i take joy from little things. i have a career i'm happy with, working for a company that is doing good things and even have the ability to make little improvements for someone else. Perhaps something i do will be evolved into something that will change the world for the better. Then again, there's an equal chance that something i do will lead to the complete sterilization of the planet, but then i wasn't the guy that said "You know, i think we need a moon."
It's nice to see vibrant optimism in someone, even if it means that they've not had the crushing wave of disappointment and bitter resolution to carry on quite yet. It gives me hope for the future.
The one full of mild depression, sad realizations, and meager moments of joy.
And the occasional divorce inspired, nuclear planet sterilizations.