Perpendiculous Programming, Personal Finance, and Personal musings


Purpose of Meaning

Filed under: Personal — cwright @ 12:47 am

I’ve always been a meticulous preserver. Even as a small child, I could never bring myself to take apart Lego creations I had made (or, ones friends had made, for that matter) because of the risk of not being able to restore them. As a software engineer, such habits still carry on in the form of archives, backups, and documentation that describe ways certain things are accomplished.

The genesis of this tendency is the notion that exerted effort is nearly priceless, no matter how trivial the trinket. This isn’t entirely true though; I have been know to destroy huge swaths of code in favor of a better design, for example. But this only happens when a working alternative exists — until that point, existing code is carefully commented out for easy retrieval incase things don’t work out. ‘Undo’ is a lifesaver, both digitally as well as in meatspace.

Small and simple gestures. Passing statements. Idle words. Their meanings kept, treasured; their value tallied, carried. But in certain circumstances, I’m put into a position to destroy the efforts of others. I still can’t get used to this. It still pains me immeasurably. And yet I cannot find an alternative.

It’s illustrated for me: “You sometimes need to just rip the bandaid off.” “I think it would be better to just get it over with and try to be as nice as possible.”

I fully understand the rationale behind this. I even find a bit of solace in the “mercy-kill” aspect of it all. Except that the “kill” part is basically irreversible — this makes things difficult because of my preservation instinct. While I enjoy cleanly leaving things behind, there’s always that nagging piece that wants to keep it pristine and available. Not as a worst-case plan-B, nor a backup or fail-safe. Though perhaps with Relationships that’s the case merely out of desperation? As infrequently as they come, they carry an astronomical value. It’s nearly criminal to discard such things. But perhaps it’s necessary? My indecision kills me. My perspective paralyzes me.

Empathically, I can feel the devastation of receiving no return for all the invested efforts. I feel the emptiness of hollow promises. In a way, it cheapens all the small actions that are supposed to draw people closer together, it trashes the tiny inside quips and jabs the are shared intimately. This cheapening, this destruction, it pulls everything out of me.

Perhaps I’m being dramatic — after all, when on the receiving end, things have often returned to normal rather quickly afterwards. But I wonder if that’s something that I should expect from others.

Is it too weak to simply put things on hiatus, rather than in the dumpster?

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