Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lightning Strikes

Well, this semester is approximately 1/3 complete, which is absolutely absurd. The classes I'm currently taking aren't all that interesting to me, but that doesn't mean I'm itching for them to be done. School has been my life for so long, and I've loved every minute of it. (It's possible to love something without liking it all the time...) Time trudges on at an ever increasing pace, and I'm dragged along whether I like it or not.

The biggest sign of this is my job search, and I seem to be making at least a little progress. Next week I'm interviewing at a company in Holland on Monday before flying out that evening to Madison, Wisconsin for an interview at Epic Systems on Tuesday, followed by a technical phone interview with MathWorks (makers of MATLAB) on Wednesday.

The fact that I'm getting interviews at all is a huge blessing, and I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunities, but at this point I'm still feeling a bit apathetic about the whole process. Anyone who knows me well could probably tell you that I prefer long-term decisions are backed by complete confidence. I hesitate to take a first step unless I know what the end result will be. I'm sure that quality has saved me a fair bit of grief over the last twenty-three years, but the great things I'm bound to have missed force me to consider it a character flaw. I want so badly for a job description to send a shiver down my spine; a lightning strike of serendipity and mutual interest to hit me right between the eyes. (If you think you have a job, or know of a job, that might be such a lightning bolt, my contact information and resume are located at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~pnbloem/index.html. I look forward to hearing from you.)

It's probably naive of me to expect that, but that's not going to stop me from praying constantly that it happens. That prayer happens to be comically short and repetitive, but I'm holding out hope that it will be answered:
Show me where you want me. Show me what to do.
Let's be honest, decisions about the location and objectives of the coming years of my life will be handled much better by someone with a better big-picture comprehension than me.

So I'm standing on a golf course during a thunder-storm with my five iron in the air. Hit me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Considering Mortality

Yes, I'm typing this on my MacBook Pro, and I've owned quite a few iPods of different shapes and sizes, but I wouldn't exactly call myself an Apple fanatic. I appreciate good design, take genuine pleasure in things that work incredibly well, and don't have a problem with companies that make said products charging a premium for them. (Side note: If you claim Apple's products are too expensive, you don't understand economics. Once people stop buying them because they cost so much, they've become too expensive. When the company is one of the largest in the world and selling things at the rate Apple is currently, things are priced pretty darn well.)

Steve Jobs was a lot of things. He was the epitome of the American dream, a visionary, and incredibly intelligent. His biggest asset, in my opinion, was breaking through all the crap consumers have expressed as what they "want" and figuring out, time and time again, what they need. His life and accomplishments  are documented thoroughly across the web, so I won't take time to re-hash them. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs) 

One thing has stood out to me throughout the coverage of and conversation over his passing, though, and that's the sentiment that when someone this influential dies relatively young, it forces us to consider our mortality. In fact, Jobs himself touched on this when he said:
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
Many people have described how this event is causing them to reevaluate their lives and to take some chances. I'm not convinced.

I agree with everything Jobs said in that quote, and I hope I can take it to heart and act on it, but let's be honest for a moment here and recognize the fact that there just aren't that many people out there that are going to change their day-to-day lives because a person they've never met is now gone. I might have a moment of inspiration, but if I really want to do something great, the motivation for that has to come from within, and I have to do something about it.

This post serves more as a reminder to myself to improve in this area. And if I'm lucky, maybe I'll prove myself wrong about this whole thing and I can thank Steve for forcing me to consider my mortality and its ramifications en route to making the most of myself.