05.30.2022 - Relating to Sid Meier
I'm currently listening to the autobiography of Sid Meier, famous video game creator. It's a funny and fascinating memoir. Honestly, I didn't realize how many games he's created or how many I've played. I had forgotten about Silent Service, a submarine simulation from the late 80s. My dad bought our family's first PC around that time. My two most frequently played games were Test Drive and Silent Service. I had no idea it was created by the guy who's name would be forever synonymous with Civilization.
I'll probably share a ton of quotes from the book in the future, but here's one that made me smile.
My coworker Jake Solomon once asked me point blank, "What's your guilty pleasure?" It should be mentioned that he did this on stage in front of a few hundred people, which is not usually the ideal place to unburden your soul. Fortunately, the answer came easily.
"Excess," I told him with a pained smile. The drawback of being able to isolate the interesting part of any given thing is that you are constantly interested by every given thing. I routinely find myself stumbling into new hobbies almost by accident, and as with my work life, I seem incapable of doing anything halfheartedly.
As an example, I like to play the guitar. I know a fair number of chords, and when I'm playing music with friends I'll occasionally hand over the keyboards to someone else, so I can pretend to be a rock star in short bursts. But I wouldn't consider myself astronomically talented at, or obsessed with, playing the guitar-I'm just interested in it. Therefore, I own about twenty of them.
In my defense, some are for convenience. I keep two at the office and two in our church building, because you never know whether the acoustic or electric mood will strike, and I don't want to haul them back and forth all the time. The rest are either hanging on display at home or in various states of storage, but they do get played, as I keep insisting to Susan.
Then there are the radio-controlled airplanes, and the historical memorabilia, and the golf clubs... like I said, guitars are just one hobby of mine. I'm a nerd, and nerds always want to have the latest gadget. I can justify my extensive collection of game consoles as part of my job, at least, but for the most part I have to make a conscious effort to keep the accumulation below pathological levels. I once got to visit George Lucas's library at Skywalker Ranch, which has a ladder leading up to a second-floor balcony where you can access another several thousand books. It's probably a good thing that I've never lived in a house that could hold that many books, but a grand, sprawling library is the first room I'd install if I did.
As someone who has, throughout my life, taken heat for my varied interests and the resulting accumulation of items pertaining to those interests, this was delightful to read. There are those who complain about the money spent, about the clutter and "mess" from having all these interesting items scattered around the house. I learned a long time ago that if someone doesn't inherently understand, they probably never will. At best they'll humor you.
I've always said my varied interests are, in many ways, indirectly responsible for the success I've had in life. They're emblematic of curiosity. They're signs of wanting to know how the world works and where it's going, of a desire for continuous personal growth.
Most of my career success has occurred due to the generalist nature of my skillset. I'm not the world's best programmer or best software designer or best copywriter or best graphic designer, but I can and have effectively worn all those hats. I was able to do it because I'm genuinely curious about how each area of focus impacts the larger project.
For me, curiosity is satisfied by experimentation. When I want to know something, I'll usually try to learn it. It won't usually be the deepest education. I'm not going back to college or anything like that. But I do like to acquire first hand understanding, either by reading or trying. Note: If I'm not interested in a topic, there's very little chance anyone will convince me to explore it. Thankfully, my interests (and desire to be a better person) are rather broad.
To acquire understanding, I regularly buy books, gadgets, LEGO, cameras, electronic drum sets, drones, exercise equipment, video production gear, monitors, toys, mini solar panels, flight simulators, home automation tools, outdoor gear, etc.. As a result, my home fills up with an endless influx of new stuff.
When I was younger, there was an argument to be made that I couldn't afford my curiosity, but that's less of a problem now (although, I still can't afford my own personal aircraft, which would be cool). But this is how I learn. This is how I grow. This is how I pursue that which interests me.
If one person's method of learning and satisfying curiosity is different than another's, why assume one is right and the other is wrong if both are effective for the people applying them? In today's world, shouldn't we encourage all manner of learning and curiosity, especially when data confirms the more you learn and the more questions you ask the less likely you are to think you know everything?
Regardless, it's always nice to discover there are people like you in the world. It's exciting to see your methods reproduced by others with even better results. Maybe you're doing something right after all.