Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doing Something Worthy of Doing

I'm constantly pulled back to this train of thought: of the options that are sometimes placed before me, and the few that I had enough understanding of to consider pursuing, are they worthy of my attention?

What, seriously, has come up in the past several months, and why am I not on track pursuing one of them? Instead I continue to waiver, unsure of myself, not unwilling to commit to the right cause but never less sure of the right causes to which to commit.

Scientific coding. I had a small job to port an algorithm from Maple to C++. However, it was in the spring and I was not able to complete the task while taking care of finals and graduation. Mostly I had roadblocking questions about the Maple code and lost touch with the professor for too long. I let the prof. down and now consider it a missed opportunity.

Web business. Some friends have talked about this from time to time. Various ideas from a system to order printed materials; course survey system for small colleges; dog kennel club store; a "heartbeat" notification site that triggers actions when someone stops visiting; a Web 2.0 design tool using Inkscape; SplotchUp, whatever social networking that was supposed to be; virtual flyerwalls... a lot of curious thoughts without a reasonable idea for return. People say you need to take risks but that implies you have some means of judging risk to begin with, and I could never manage to put a confident story together that would say "go ahead with it".

One thing I know, is that altruism is destroying me. I feel unable to withhold, yet also unable to leverage the kinds of benefits I see others gaining from their efforts. Even with the open source projects like Atramentum, the real benefit is building connections to people -- users and collaborators -- and *pfft* the few bites I got there evaporated. And in business, where the "hook" is everything, I find myself unable to present myself with strings attached or to be assertive enough to compete effectively for business.

Even still, people distrust me and go with those obviously intent on doing them wrong. I'm the "nice guy" at whom everyone smiles, yet who is shunned in every circle. It has been this way since I can remember, the sense of isolation ever clouding my thoughts. Sometimes that sense of marginalization becomes acutely painful, the mental equivalent of when I was told to work in a freezing pool of water, my muscles shaking so violently I barely had the coordination to crawl out. I still don't know where I fit in this world.

When almost nobody is interested in what you have to say or can do, where is the sense in doing anything at all? Intimacy is among the most basic of human needs, and when it remains unfulfilled we starve just as surely as if we were going without food.

In the end it all sums up to nothing, just so much shouting into the wind.

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