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Bobby Bates
Bobby Bates

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What is the Meaning of Life?

I was hung up on this one for a long time. After much reading of Existentialism, Stoicism, and pop-psych articles, I eventually decided that the meaning, for me anyway, lies in my day-to-day actions. If I want to live a life worth living, I need to make those actions count. By count, I mean that it must be meaning*ful* to me. So what's meaningful to me?

  • Equal rights for all beings, human and nonhuman
  • Human-powered transportation (i.e., walking, bicycles)
  • Bicycle infrastructure
  • Helping others
  • Laughing with others
  • Being in control of most of my time
  • Consistent full nights of sleep (7.5 or 9 hours work best for me)
  • Stretching my body

I'm vegan, an animal rights activist, a former bike messenger, former and long-time bike commuter. I am generally successful with incorporating the other bullet points into my life. I have also pursued programming for some years now. Is that meaningful to me? Why yes, it's challenging, and I share the communal feeling among coders of delight after pushing through the dim, hopeless middle of a problem and landing on the other side with a solution.

But it didn't make the meaningful list; what gives?

Yeah, well, it should be up there because I can spend days on end working on a project, Googling this method and that extension, truly delighting myself in building something well, and that looks good, too. Having something like that is superb.

What am I on about? I'm uncovering why I'm pursuing software development. Problem-solving brings direct meaning to me, as well as the collaborative aspects of coding (after I push past the shyness, the social anxiety, and the imposter syndrome). High demand and pay for programmers come into play as well. Also, I am done beating my body up with physical labor for a paycheck; super glad to have the privilege and opportunity to change the majority of my waking hours to healthier activity.

What about future meaning? This is still uncomfortably undefined at the moment. I know that I'll have refined my coding skills by the end of this Flatiron Software Development course and will be ready to start the programmer's path professionally, wherever that will take me. It'll be fully remote. Other than that, it is, and I am, wide open.

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