King of None

In my last post, I left off writing that September was a watershed month, though now that I think about it, the real shift came the spring before, when I saw this drawing in a book:

all directions, one direction

The book, Essentialism, is based on a directive as simple as it is powerful: figure out what’s essential and eliminate everything else. It’s an idea with endless application, but the reason I include it here is because it forced me to confront an uncomfortable truth about myself, which I’ll get to in a second.

One thing I left out of my previous post was that when my commitment to programming waned, other things inevitably took its place. There were violin lessons and half-hearted attempts to learn the guitar, periodic commitments to photography and an occasional fascination with astronomy. I’d write a slew of blog posts and keep up an exercise regime, but never for very long. And of course I’d be kidding myself if I neglected to mention the countless hours spent playing videogames and browsing Reddit.

So the uncomfortable truth was this: I would never move beyond mediocrity in anything unless I devoted myself to one thing. Instead of incremental movement in many directions, I’d need to make dramatic improvement in one. But how?