The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.
All things must die.
“All Things will Die” Verses 9-14 – Alfred Lord Tennyson
On the other hand,
The stream flows,
The wind blows,
The cloud fleets,
The heart beats,
Nothing will die.
“Nothing will Die” Verses 9-13 – Alfred Lord Tennyson
Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my blog. Looking back, a lot has happened. Four years… woah. When I began this blog, I was a sixteen-year old nerdy high-schooler who really didn’t get out much and had lots of tics which aggravated whenever he met people or was nervous. Look how things have changed. Now I’ve become so awesome. I am now a twenty-year old nerdy college-student who really doesn’t get out much and has lots of tics which aggravate whenever he meets people or is nervous. Okay fine, not much has changed. Sigh. -_-
But hey, I met two of my heros. Usman Naseer and Pervez Hoodbhoy. :)
I was tremendously obsessed with Computer Programming, I remember. Most of my first posts were about design patterns in Java, along with some SDL Tutorials and Programming humor. I made video games, applications and whatnot. Then my interests slowly changed and I got increasingly interested in Physics. That was the only subject I got a good grade in, in my A Levels, but I got a distinction in it so luckily got into a reasonably good university. At around this time, my blog was filled with physics posts upon physics posts. Hilarious part is, it kind of burned out. Faded away, and back came Computer Programming but now in its more mature and mathematically rigorous form, Computer Science. In a way, perhaps Computer Science was a line and Physics was a squiggle:
How did this come about? Well, four years ago I thought Computer Science was Software Engineering. That was quite possibly one of the biggest misconceptions of my life. Computer Science is far more than Software Engineering. In fact, Computer Science is much more than just computers. As one of the greatest Computer Scientists of all time, Edsger W. Dijikstra said, “Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.“. As I wrote in the Facebook group I created for my batch’s Computer Science majors, Computer Science is, among other things, about finding simplicity in complexity. It is about understanding abstract machines and the fundamental problems that can be solved with them. It is about understanding reality better using mathematical models. It is about solving problems that allow the creation of medicine and vaccines that save the lives of millions and cure cancer. It is about finding techniques that solve the most fundamental problems humanity has ever faced. Most importantly, it is about finding truth and beauty.
Why write a blog in the first place? Well, I have no idea. Initially it started out just because I was bored. The more I wrote, though, the more I felt empowered. I could express myself far better than I could ever do in person. I could share information, share my passions, my opinions, teach people stuff, complain about things. It was my voice. My corner in cyberspace. “Mistakes have been made”, though. I have written several posts I do not agree with anymore. I have written several things I’m downright embarrassed about. On the bright side, though, I’m kind of proud of some of the things I wrote. Such as this post.
The best part is, writing helps me fight one of the things I fear most… loneliness. There have been several times in part four years when I have been friendless. It is scary. Eats you up, one feels purposeless. In those dark times, I have written some of my best posts. Kind of reminds me of that amazing poem by Maya Angelou…
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
“Still I Rise” Stanza 9 – Maya Angelou
What do I think of life? Life is wonderful. I don’t mean that in the personal sense. Whether my life is wonderful or not, life in general is a wonderful thing. How amazing is it that we have been given this brief period in time to observe the beauty and mysteries of the Cosmos. One of Carl Sagan’s quotes especially appeals to me, “we make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers.” I also love how Richard Dawkins puts it (non-youtube link for people in oppressive regimes):
At the end of the day, even though one must never lose sight of the big picture. It is the little things in life that turn out to be the more important. Curiosity. Empathy. Love. Wonder. Kindness. Helping someone out, being kind, being sympathetic. This world has so much pain and suffering. Children starving, terminal diseases, people in pain, people in misery. I can never understand how anyone can ever have the audacity to kill another being. Life is precious, life is beautiful. Make the most of this life. Bertrand Russel’s words, I think, sum it all up the best in the prologue to his autobiography. Which is perhaps the most beautiful passage anyone has ever written:
What I Have Lived For
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.
– Prologue to Autobiography, Bertrand Russell.
I usually only reserve this phrase for very awesome people but…
Take care and don’t forget to be awesome.