ありがとう – arigato
“thank you” in Japanese
10 years after introducing 43 Things to the world, we have decided we have met our last goal: completing the incredible experience that has been 43 Things. Please join us in giving one last cheer to all the folks who have shared their goals with the world, as well as all the people who have worked at The Robot Co-op to build this incredible website. We won a Webby Award, published a book, and brought happiness to a lot of people.
Starting today, 43 Things users can export their goals and entries from the site. Starting August 15, we will make the site “read only”. 43 Things users will still be able to view the site and export their content, but we won’t be taking any new content from users. We hope to leave the site up for folks to see and download their content until the end of the year. Ending on New Year’s Eve takes us full circle.
It has been a long ride (one of our original goals was to "build a company that lasts at least 2 years” - we beat that one!) While we wish the site could live on, it has suffered from a number of challenges - changes in how people use the site, the advertising industry, and how search engines view the site. We wish the outcome was different – but we’ve always been realistic about when our goals are met and when they aren't.
As of today, you will be able to download your goals and entries. See more about that on the FAQ page. Thanks for 10 great years of goal-setting and achieving.
- The Robots.
ありがとう – arigato
“thank you” in Japanese
“fruit” in German
I am so sorry, guys – that was me who messed up before :( Maromera had posted pretty quick after me and for some stupid reason, I’d thought we were both following on from terremoto, and so I removed mine :( Of course, now I see that maromera was following from me – I was just being a dumbass :/ Won’t happen again! :P
“ghost” in German
Negligible progress – I haven’t read any spiritual texts, but have briefly discussed atheism with a former colleague.
No progress – I have not studied or read any non-fiction at all this week.
Mixed progress – I have been feeling up and down this week; my diet is still going to hell, and my exercises have been non-existent this week.
Excellent progress – I’ve been out with a former colleague (as mentioned above), and I’ve also been for lunch with a current colleague, as well as going for drinks on Thursday night to commiserate my leaving my job.
Some progress – I have had informal interviews about a permanent post but it didn’t work out.
Some progress – I have been learning about American football this week and watched a whole game between Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots from last season. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to.
Some progress – diet and exercise have gone to shit, but I have spent some time working on not picking my face, which is a terrible habit I need to break. My skin already looks a bit better.
Focus: Physical, Spiritual, Intellectual
“strawberry” in Swedish
I’ve seen word association games on here and I always enjoyed playing them as a kid :) So, in line with my love of languages, I’m going to start a game here that uses any language other than English. I know that English is a foreign language for some, but since English is the main language on here, I think it will be more interesting to exclude it.
So, here are the guidelines:
Have fun!! :)
Edit / Update:
Hope this all makes sense :)
I hope you had a fantastic day yesterday, JWillow :D
Sorry, I’m slightly late :(
I’m thinking that the best way for me to do this is to write all my birthday cards for the year in advance, so they’re ready to post at the right time. I am hopeless at remembering to sort these things in time otherwise.
I haven’t picked for two days now, and it’s really difficult to resist the compulsion. The thing is that although it still looks pretty bad, it actually looks a lot better after leaving them alone. I’ve got to kick the habit though because I look so fucking terrible. I was so embarrassed when someone asked me if I had chickenpox the other day :( People don’t really say anything to me, but most likely out of politeness, because there’s no way people don’t notice.
This is a serious habit that is going to lead to scarring, if not more serious skin problems. It is self-mutilation and I have to face up to that fact.
I’m gradually getting the hang of the terminology. I watched a whole game from last season and did one half one night and the second half the night after. Before the second half, I made a note of all the players on my team, what position they were and looked up what they did.
So now I know what the following are, relatively comfortably, without looking at my notes!:
OK, running out now…
There are some other terms I remember learning, but less sure of what they do, so I guess I need to revise!
Watching the second half was definitely a lot easier to follow as a result of my swotting :) Shame we lost, but hey :(
My diet is going terribly right now – I’ve put on the weight I lost in January. I can lose it again and reach my target by the end of February, as long as I turn it around and stick with it. I have had no motivation at all in the past week, and I haven’t done any exercise either :(
I’m about halfway through, but feeling totally uninspired right now, so I’ve decided to give it up for now and come back to it. It’s just not really happening. I’ll finish it off another time.
Before today, I knew diddly squat about American football. I’ve seen about 4 films that centre around the sport, but understanding the game was never really essential in that context. Maybe that sounds strange to most Americans – I imagine that it’s something you grow up with and you can’t help but learn something about it, even if you’re not that into it. I’m just guessing there.
I’ve got more interested in sports in general over the last few years. I used to hate football (as we know it, soccer in America) until about 6 years ago, when I went to a match, and had a great time. Now I support Bolton Wanderers, and I’ve selected a few teams from other countries as well:
Formula 1 is something I watched passively on a Sunday growing up, and although I enjoyed watching it, I didn’t get very involved. I knew a couple of drivers and teams, and that was about it.
I now take a more active interest and support McLaren, favouring Hamilton over Button, but I like them both a lot, and I also like Red Bull (the team, not the drink!).
When I was arbitrarily picking football teams to support from around the world, I also ended up picking some teams from other sports, because I’d got the ESPN app on my phone and kind of got carried away looking through all the sports I could add. I started looking at NFL and NHL and thought I’d pick a team from both sports to support.
So, using very arbitrary measures, I selected Miami Dolphins for NFL, and Tampa Bay Lightning for NHL.
I’ve just watched the first half of a match between New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins from the last season, and I feel like I’m just about getting to grip with the basics. It’s quite a lot to process! :)
I like Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall so far, but I will watch out for more players of interest :)
Please note that this entry is stupidly long, so if you haven’t read the book and want it all to be a surprise to you, or don’t want to read passages out of context, don’t read this entry. There are about 6-8 pages in this book that have particularly inspired me to write this entry, but I’m still trying to crystallise my thoughts into something tangible. Apologies for the total disregard for brevity! :)
This book will make you think about your life in a very different way. It’s a very unique book and it’s hard to describe, so I’m going to refer you to Wikipedia for a more detailed description and I have put the summary of what the book is about here:
The book describes, in first person, a 17-day journey on his motorcycle from Minnesota to California by the author (though he is not identified in the book) and his son Chris, joined for the first nine days by close friends John and Sylvia Sutherland. The trip is punctuated by numerous philosophical discussions, referred to as Chautauquas by the author, on topics including epistemology, ethical emotivism and the philosophy of science.
Many of these discussions are tied together by the story of the narrator’s own past self, who is referred to in the third person as Phaedrus (after Plato’s dialogue). Phaedrus, a teacher of creative and technical writing at a small college, became engrossed in the question of what defines good writing, and what in general defines good, or “quality”. His philosophical investigations eventually drove him insane, and he was subjected to electroshock treatment which permanently changed his personality.
Towards the end of the book, Phaedrus’s personality begins to re-emerge and the narrator is reconciled with his past.
You can read more about the author here.
I thought I’d best give a little context first.
I have a degree in Italian with Linguistics and completed sub-Honours modules in French and German. I graduated in 2007 and am now 27 years old. I have worked in administration since, and really feel I should be doing more with life.
At school, I was very good at languages, and it seemed a natural progression to carry that on to university. So, I did. I had no clue what I wanted to do when I left, and avoided serious consideration of the matter. I figured I’d probably become an academic, but I think that a lot of that stems from a desperate desire to remain a student and to just keep learning.
I lacked confidence when I left school and my first job didn’t help that, but it did tell me something about not letting yourself become a doormat. I continued to be a doormat throughout subsequent jobs, but I feel that I’m learning to be less so as time goes on. 4 years of non-graduate employment in administration, where I am overqualified has given confidence on the one hand and taken it on the other.
I used to love creative writing up until I left school and have had writer’s block since. I am incapable of producing creative work for my own enjoyment without fear of my own criticism. I can’t relax enough to try and be terrible at something. I am blocking my own progress, specifically professionally, but in life in general.
I’m going to cite a passage from the book, to show you what urged me to leave my cryptic note to self.
Excerpt from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, pages 190-3
Phaedrus is teaching a class, and has recently become troubled with the idea of defining Quality.
He’d been innovating extensively. He’d been having trouble with students who had nothing to say. At first he thought it was laziness but later it became apparent that it wasn’t. They just couldn’t think of anything to say.
One of them, a girl with strong-lensed glasses, wanted to write a five-hundred-word essay about the United States. He was used to the sinking feeling that comes from statements like this, and suggested without disparagement that she narrow it down to just Bozeman.
When the paper came due she didn’t have it and was quite upset. She had tried and tried but she just couldn’t think of anything to say.
He had already discussed her with her previous instructors and they’d confirmed his impressions of her. She was very serious, disciplined and hardworking, but extremely dull. Not a spark of creativity in her anywhere. Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, were the eyes of a drudge. She wasn’t bluffing him, she really couldn’t think of anything to say, and was upset by her inability to do as she was told.
It just stumped him. Now he couldn’t think of anything to say. A silence occurred, and then a peculiar answer: “Narrow it down to the main street of Bozeman.” It was a stroke of insight.
She nodded dutifully and went out. But just before her next class she came back in real distress, tears this time, distress that had obviously been there for a long time. She still couldn’t think of anything to say, and couldn’t understand why, if she couldn’t think of anything about all of Bozeman, she should be able to think of something about just one street.
He was furious. “You’re not looking!” he said. A memory came back of his own dismissal from the University for having too much to say. For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. The more you look the more you see. She really wasn’t looking and yet somehow didn’t understand this.
He told her angrily, “Narrow it down to the front of one building on the main street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick.”
Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, opened wide. She came in the next class with a puzzled look and handed him a five-thousand-word essay on the front of the Opera House on the main street of Bozeman, Montana. “I sat in the hamburger stand across the street,” she said, “and started writing about the first brick, and the second brick, and then by the third brick it all started to come and I couldn’t stop. They thought I was crazy, and they kept kidding me, but here it all is. I don’t understand it.”
Neither did he, but on long walks through the streets of town he thought about it and concluded she was evidently stopped with the same kind of blockage that had paralyzed him on his first day of teaching. She was blocked because she was trying to repeat, in her writing, things she had already heard, just as on the first day he had tried to repeat things he had already decided to say. She couldn’t think of anything to write about Bozeman because she couldn’t recall anything she had heard worth repeating. She was strangely unaware that she could look and see freshly for herself, as she wrote, without primary regard for what had been said before. The narrowing down to one brick destroyed the blockage because it was so obvious she had to do some original and direct seeing.
He experimented further. In one class he had everyone write all hour about the back of his thumb. Everyone gave him funny looks at the beginning of the hour, but everyone did it, and there wasn’t a single complaint about “nothing to say.”
In another class he changed the subject from the thumb to a coin, and got a full hour’s writing from every student. In other classes it was the same. Some asked, “Do you have to write about both sides?” Once they got into the idea of seeing directly for themselves they also saw there was no limit to the amount they could say. It was a confidence-building assignment too, because what they wrote, even though seemingly trivial, was nevertheless their own thing, not a mimicking of someone else’s. Classes where he used that coin exercise were always less balky and more interested.
As a result of his experiments he concluded that imitation was a real evil that had to be broken before real rhetoric teaching could begin. This imitation seemed to be an external compulsion. Little children didn’t have it. It seemed to come later on, possibly as a result of school itself.
That sounded right, and the more he thought about it the more right it sounded. Schools teach you to imitate. If you don’t imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand could get you anything – from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.
He discussed this with a professor of psychology who lived next door to him, an extremely imaginative teacher, who said, “Right. Eliminate the whole degree-and-grading system and then you’ll get real education.”
The above excerpt hasn’t answered the question of what career path I should follow, but what it has done is made me look more closely at this feeling of stagnation or blockage that I’ve been having since graduation and before.
I could have continued this excerpt for another few pages, but I think I’ve quoted a long enough passage. This and the following 3-4 pages all make me feel that the reason I have a block on selecting a career is this compulsion to imitate, to follow what has come before. Focusing on the small and trivial things doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would build confidence, but I can see from reading this how it does, how it forces you to be original.
In trying to be worth something, professionally or otherwise, it feels like I need to do something big and worthwhile. Not that I’m very ambitious and looking to be a brain surgeon or an astronaut, but I want to feel that what I do allows me to fulfill my potential. I am actually going to quote another section to clarify what I feel:
The student’s biggest problem was a slave mentality which had been built into him by years of carrot-and- whip grading, a mule mentality which said, “If you don’t whip me, I won’t work.” He didn’t get whipped. He didn’t work. And the cart of civilization, which he supposedly was being trained to pull, was just going to have to creak along a little slower without him.
The hypothetical student, still a mule, would drift around for a while. He would get another kind of education quite as valuable as the one he’d abandoned, in what used to be called the “school of hard knocks.” Instead of wasting money and time as a high-status mule, he would now have to get a job as a low-status mule, maybe as a mechanic. Actually his real status would go up. He would be making a contribution for a change. Maybe that’s what he would do for the rest of his life. Maybe he’d found his level. But don’t count on it. In time…six months; five years, perhaps…a change could easily begin to take place. He would become less and less satisfied with a kind of dumb, day-to-day shop work. His creative intelligence, stifled by too much theory and too many grades in college, would now become reawakened by the boredom of the shop. Thousands of hours of frustrating mechanical problems would have made him more interested in machine design. He would like to design machinery himself. He’d think he could do a better job. He would try modifying a few engines, meet with success, look for more success, but feel blocked because he didn’t have the theoretical information. He would discover that when before he felt stupid because of his lack of interest in theoretical information, he’d now find a brand of theoretical information which he’d have a lot of respect for, namely, mechanical engineering.
So he would come back to our degreeless and gradeless school, but with a difference. He’d no longer be a grade-motivated person. He’d be a knowledge-motivated person. He would need no external pushing to learn. His push would come from inside. He’d be a free man. He wouldn’t need a lot of discipline to shape him up. In fact, if the instructors assigned him were slacking on the job he would be likely to shape them up by asking rude questions. He’d be there to learn something, would be paying to learn something and they’d better come up with it.
Motivation of this sort, once it catches hold, is a ferocious force, and in the gradeless, degreeless institution where our student would find himself, he wouldn’t stop with rote engineering information. Physics and mathematics were going to come within his sphere of interest because he’d see he needed them. Metallurgy and electrical engineering would come up for attention. And, in the process of intellectual maturing that these abstract studies gave him, he would he likely to branch out into other theoretical areas that weren’t directly related to machines but had become a part of a newer larger goal. This larger goal wouldn’t be the imitation of education in Universities today, glossed over and concealed by grades and degrees that give the appearance of something happening when, in fact, almost nothing is going on. It would be the real thing.”
I guess that what I’m saying is that I feel like this hypothetical student inasmuch that I feel that something has been stifled through education, and that my desire to learn is still very strong, but it needs to be channelled into something where I really feel alive and hungry for more, rather than suffocated by the immensity of all the amazing work out there, making me feel hopeless that I can do anything like that, i.e. that I could imitate the great successes.
It seems that if I let go of the idea of trying to be successful by doing what successful people do, I can find the confidence to find my own way and thus be all I can be.
Interesting thoughts on p.192 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Need to consider this when looking into careers, and life in general.
I would like a career within Higher Education where: