Hankering after the unknowable

No one explains it like J.Krishnamurti does.

You want me to tell you what reality is. Can the indescribable be put into words? Can you measure something immeasurable? Can you catch the wind in your fist? If you do, is that the wind? If you measure that which is immeasurable, is that the real? If you formulate it, is it the real? Surely not, for the moment you describe something which is indescribable, it ceases to be the real. The moment you translate the unknowable into the known, it ceases to be the unknowable. Yet that is what we are hankering after. All the time we want to know, because then we shall be able to continue, then we shall be able, we think, to capture ultimate happiness, permanency. We want to know because we are not happy, because we are striving miserably, because we are worn out, degraded. Yet instead of realizing the simple fact -that we are degraded, that we are dull, weary, in turmoil-we want to move away from what is the known into the unknown, which again becomes the known and therefore we can never find the real.J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life

More here.

The empathetic programmer

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adrianruiz/Long time ago – I was interested in all those fancy personality tests that you can take and they will analyze and tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are. I don’t recall it correctly but I think it was the Strengths Finder 2.0 book. Anyhow, after the test it told me one of my strength (out of couple of others) is – Empathy. I have the ability to feel other’s pain, pleasure and understand them/their situation better – sometimes even better than themselves. It was kinda bummer to me. You know I was more like looking forward to some super mental skills – like x-ray vision and mind reading!

So, I didn’t pay attention to it that much and never thought about it. After I started my own business – I had a bunch of Clients and there was a moment where we were working on like 8 projects at a time. I was talking to Sangita and how I was getting lucky with closing the deals and knowing what to do with the project – she reminded me of my strengths finder test. She mentioned may be in addition to luck I am able to read their requirements a bit more with my madz skillz of empathy! It clicked to me and I thought may be it’s not that bad of an idea to accept my strengths even if they are not super human like. I kept it in the back of my head in all my meetings with my clients and in some cases I was able to see the affect it had on my conversations with them.

It always irked me though that – the one top strength I have on my list will never be able to help me in my first love – programming. It still bothered me. Not until couple of months back where I had an insight and everything fell in it’s place. I was grappling with a programming issue. It was a tough bug to crack and when usually I am stuck with an issue – I try to stay with it as much as possible skipping food etc so that I can understand it much deeply. In that wariness – for a moment I saw what I was doing. It just occurred to me what actually I was doing internally. I was using my strength to solve a software issue.

I know this sounds corny, but what I was doing was being the bug. I was sitting there and literally imagining myself to be the issue and see how and why I am getting stuck. And using that information I perceive to solve the problem. I am sure a lot of people do this, but for me more important was how my top strength fell into this big maze of my life. That was it – I am the empathetic programmer. I solve and write software based on how I feel the program feels!

Having Empathy as your strongest point isn’t easy. I mean, c’mon the best suited job for my type is a psychologist or a social worker. How far away is that from building programs? After I understood my strength application – it all made sense. That’s why I can’t watch any medical shows. I mean I literally cringe and sometimes depending on how much I feel – feel the pain of the person who is suffering medically. There were so many occasions where people would describe to me in most vivid details of their symptoms and boom I see them in me too.

Thats the reason why it took me 4 years to finally come around and start watching Gray’s Anatomy and House. Scrubs, I could take but nothing with gory details and blood spewing scenes. It’s funny in it’s own way, but if it would let me solve my programming bugs and make me a better programmer – then so be it. Ultimately, the best debugger in this world is between your ears. 🙂