This past Memorial Day weekend I woke up to my own Groundhog Day-style disappointment. My Pixel 4 XL's battery had stopped holding a charge... again... on a third device.
Working in technology, I'm used to having things break. I've also been a big Android user since the release of the Motorola Droid, sticking with the OS through a fair share of warts and growing pains. But when my phone broke last week in the same way as my other two Pixel devices, causing a Monday morning scramble to the store, I decided maybe it was time to be less of a tinkerer and more of a user again.
... at least when it comes to phones.
To help get used to the publishing flow on my blog, I'm going to note some of my thoughts here for others to chew on (and spit at) if they're so inclined. I'll admit upfront I did fairly minimal homework, thinking my years at big tech companies and affinity for tinkering would get me through any adjustment pains.
Some things have been smooth. Some have been choppy. Some are mystifyingly difficult. It reminds me a lot of when I had a Mac laptop actually.
As a general rule, a few weeks in now, I can feel the stability I traded for. I'm still frustrated by some limitations, but I think it's been the right call so far.
I just have to come to terms with the fact that I'm now just a user... and be OK with that.
In part because I didn’t get very good career advice when I was there, I like talking to Duke students about their potential careers. Since I jump at the opportunities that present themselves, I end up saying a lot of the same things over and over.
So, I’ve decided to write them down here to make it easier for all involved, and maybe even help a few others along the way. I’ll start with some warnings, give you my suggestions for how to build your career, and then give a brief recap of how mine has been going for reference.
This advice is targeted particularly at Duke students, but hopefully there is enough here that you can apply it to your own life at other schools as well.
So, I know I'm in danger with this current line of thinking, because changing course just as you start learning something can lead to a lot of errant twists without making any progress. I've only just started to learn bending on the harmonica at all, let alone learn to do it well.
... But I can't get the idea out of my mind that I might want to switch to chromatic harp instead. And while I shouldn't quit before I get a good sense of something, I similarly shouldn't ignore my own feedback and preferences when other viable alternatives exist.
Sure, The grass is always greener on the other side, but there are a few reasons that I'm taking this seriously enough to try a switch.
Though I have attempted to learn harmonica a handful of times in my life, I've always given up when it was time to learn bending. I can now proudly say, I have finally produced an absolutely terrible, but absolutely undeniable, bend on the harmonica.
One of the things I like about Stoicism is that it encourages thinking up new, shorter, pithier phrases for key ideas. More wisdom per word is the name of the game. For example (not all from Stoic writers):
What we desire makes us vulnerable
Ego is the enemy
What if I had no opinion about this?
You are the sum of your actions. Choose wisely.
There's one I picked up from a non-Stoic text I'd like to share today: You Are Here.
As I've been learning harmonica, one of the fun things that I've tried my hand at a few times is transposing music I like into harmonica tabs. Going the traditional music theory route was fun for a few rounds, but then the tedium started to set in, and I wanted to find other ways of doing it.
One of the teachings of Stoicism is that humanity doesn't fundamentally change. The drama and squabbles we see today are fundamentally the same drama and squabbles we see from ancient times. People were kind and people were petty. People focused on acquiring good and gaining status. People shirked those things to try and find meaning. People loved their families and hated their memories.