Life, defined by the environment
Each person has multiple talents but only gets to develop few of them in their lifetime, based on the environment and the situation they are in. For example, I bet there were many people in the past who would have been great programmers, but since computers didn’t exist, and the theory wasn’t developed, they never got to see how good they were. Some of them possessed a mind that would come up with genius ideas in computer science, but instead they never were in an environment where they could shine, so they focused on their other tallents, in fighting wars, or agriculture or construction, or whatever their society rewarded that they were good at.
So far, as far as my talents go, I’ve discovered that I’m good in Math. In high school there was an opportunity for participating in competitions, so i competed and I did well. Later, in university, I got interested in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, and had some success there as well, graduating with a Masters degree. Studying and applying computer science is a lot of fun, but besides the fun of doing it, I honestly think I’ve decided to work in this area because it is novel and developing and therefore provides great opportunities. This is not bad, but makes me wonder - what if I were born in different times, with different incentives? Would I have become a farmer, an artist, a builder if I were born in the past, or in country where these seemed like the best opportunities. Could I select my vocation intrinsically, rather than chasing the best opportunities.
I’d like be mindful about my own life, rather than selling away my mindfullness and letting my life go on on auto-pilot. I’d like to discover myself through selecting my challenges, and not just responding to the environment.
Has anyone been fully free to pursue their own intrinsic desires? I guess that people born into rich families with a lot of opportunities had some say in what they could spend their time on. And even they are still limited in many ways - they may not have access to the environment to do the things that they might be interested, might not have the know-how, the education and training for it, and might be influenced by the needs of their time and environment.
I hope to be freer in the future and do more self experiments, where I try to develop into directions of my choosing. Realistically, I think I will never be fully free from reacting to my environment - sometimes good opportunities come and they are too good to pass on, as they may open the doors to many other great opportunities.
Also I might decide that a cause is more importsnt than my own intrinsic desires, and decide to devote a lot of my conscous effort towards it. There are many famous and infamous people such as Mandela, Che Guevara and Snowden who devote most of their developement, effort and life on a give cause. Additionally, and this is where I’m geeking out, I’m not convinced that intrinsic desire is mathematically well defined concept. It is hard to imagine a hipothetical situation where there are no restrictions and yet the environment remains neutral to the individuals.
I am grateful to be lucky, that I’ve had some great opportunities in my life, that I’ve taken advantage of, such as the math competitions in high school and the good jobs out of college. I’m also grateful for people I’ve met that have influenced me to develop in directions that I didn’t originally plan to develop myself into, such as running, and cooking, and writing.
I am trying to stay humble and realize that I’m no special, in different times I probably would have had much more misserable life, and that even though I’ve walked a path that’s brought me to a pretty comfortable, better than the average on the planet, very little bit of the credit comes to me. I’ve simply taken advantages of the cards that I was dealt so far.