So I learned something today: other people have things to teach me! Haha. It's not a new lesson of course, but there is always the euphoria with having a revelation, even if I've had the same revelation many times before.
There's a guy at work I dig into a lot, he was the subject of a previous post. I was looking at some code I had written and discovered he had refactored it. (Non-techies, this is improving the code.) Even though the code technically belongs to the company I work for there's a sense of personal ownership: I wrote the code. So when I saw he changed it I was teed off and immediately set about changing it back because I felt I had already written it good.
"How dare he improve upon my work! That's simply not possible!"
After I was done I took a step back and wondered if I was fossilizing, becoming resistant to new ideas; maybe I should investigate the worth of what he had done I thought. So I did. Went on Google, Stack Overflow, and other sites to get different opinions on code styles, asked someone at work who likes to talk about these things. In the end I kept some of my old code style, but was open to adopting the new one this other guy had done. As in many things software related each code style has merit beyond style, which is why I didn't wholeheartedly adopt the new approach. But still, it was a revelation of sorts: this guy I always believe I'm superior to actually has things to teach me if I would lower the ego a bit and actually listen.
As a side note. There's another friend at work who's been teaching me some different lessons, non work related, in regards to relating to women and really people in general.
When I say teaching I don't really mean these people are sitting me down on a stool and saying, "See this here? This is important." No, what's really happening is they're just living their lives as feels natural to them, completely oblivious to the fact that they're teaching me. It's my response to seeing such different behavior to what feels natural to me that prompts me to go into study mode. I'm probably going to get a bit more direct than I usually get in stating my world view, but these other people are like mirrors. Me viewing different aspects of myself made manifest in others. It's really amazing that I can think of myself as complete in certain ways but yet come upon moments where I realize how incomplete I am. Were I to only develop software in a way that feels natural to me, it would take an extraordinarily long time to come upon an equally worthy style that someone else feels is natural. Similar to being open and friendly to other people. Being able to watch this behavior so effortlessly flow out of another greatly speeds my acquisition of such behavior.
Truly it could be said other people are catalysts of ourselves. Catalyst in the truest biological sense. Noun. Chemistry. A substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
I've been meaning to write this for a while but was never able to because I never had the right mood when I was in front of the keyboard.
Today I was thinking about someone at work I somewhat frequently spar with because of his programming designs. I won't get into my specific reasons as that'll sidetrack what I want to talk about, but suffice to say I highly believe I'm right and that he's highly wrong. But today I was getting excited about planning for a programming task. All these ideas I've had in mind for a while I'll get a chance to implement them. It's fun! That's also when I started thinking about this other guy. He actually really enjoys development as much as I do. But I was thinking today how boring it would be if someone like me were constantly telling him to not do something the way he wants, but this other way instead. These opinions of mine I do believe are valid enough to bring to his attention to change, and I do. But...I'm killing his joy.
There really are some lessons in life that others can't learn for you. You can read it in a book until you're blue in the face, but you'll never grasp it, not really, until you live it. It's as if you need to be given a chance to do what you think you would never do. Until you have that real visceral choice, an experience that makes you truly question yourself, the learning doesn't really take root.
The overarching lesson for me in all this is a proper, or balanced, way of expressing myself. Not impressing my will upon others. The sun has enough energy to burn, but it can moderate it to warm. It's a tricky thing finding that balance between being a doormat and not expressing myself, and becoming a tyrant and lording over others. I think the thing I learned today is the importance of letting others be as they will be. It's their joy to experience and live as they please, regardless of what I feel about their form of joy.
An image that's always come to mind when I think about this concept are children in school. I imagine an 8th grader correcting a 3rd grader, frequently. While the 8th grader may be absolutely right in his teachings, the 3rd grader isn't learning, isn't enjoying being alive. Someone else is appropriating their joy of discovery from them. Besides, at some point the 3rd grader will become an 8th grader. The lessons will be learned, regardless of the road to get there.