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July 3, 2021

Learning Forever


Learning ad infinitum, notwithstanding tangents, with forever projects.

Consider this insightful thought on ‘forever projects’:

…We talk sometimes about the “Renaissance Man” - a polymath who is good at many different pursuits. But why were there (seemingly) many polymaths in the Renaissance and few now? Part of the answer is surely that the gentlemen and courtiers of the Renaissance faced less economic pressure to specialize and were more free to do what naturally pleased them and fed their growth - to study and practice skills in many different areas. …

A good Forever Project will encourage you to wander through a variety of topics. Many of them will be new(-ish) to you, so you’ll find it easy to learn something about them. I spent two months on Celtic knots and came away with a better understanding of their history, the theory behind drawing them, and some notion of how to implement an algorithm to draw them. I’m pretty sure that none of that will ever increase my salary. But what it did do is increase the breadth of my personal knowledge, skills and interests. And if you do the same, perhaps that will make you a happier, more fulfilled person.

And the main point:

…The most important principle to remember in working on a Forever Project is that it’s not about Getting Things Done. It’s about moving forward in a way that is (1) interesting to you, and (2) helps you to grow. So throw out all the usual maxims about getting the most out of your time, tips for finishing a project, and so on. All you need is a pretty simple loop: find something interesting in your project and then work on it until it’s no longer interesting. Rinse and repeat.


 

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