Stating the Obvious

One of my favorite aspects of writing is the ability to go back a reference my previous thinking. One theme that recurs each time I revisit previous writing is the notion that my my ideas aren't fresh enough or original enough. It's an insecurity that turns up every time I consider hitting publish. That being said, I want to take a moment to list some quick hit items that feel so obvious that they must be unoriginal:

  • No one wants to do the hard work. It's all there for the taking.
  • You can make a career out of grinding through work that no one else wants to do.
  • On the outside, people will view your successes (cleaning up everyone's ugly, ugly messes) as some sort of bourgeois existence.
  • There is pleasure within that hard work; it comes in the form of empathy for the person who's problem you solved or who's life you made easier.

This list seems obvious to the point of cliché. I even feel reluctant to post them since they seem better suited in some nouveau Chicken Soup for the Soul. But I like to write because it's part of a necessary process to shatter that insecurity. Not everything is obvious to everyone.

For instance, my co-worker got excited about Elon Musk's announcement of the Hyperloop today. Before the details were released, we both speculated what the technical specifications would be. Because I'm a formally trained mechanical engineer, who also happened to assemble air bearings in my career and study advanced thermodynamics in undergrad, I stated it was obvious that the idea was going to use some combination of a linear motor (think railgun) propulsion system and air bearing levitation system to reduce friction… duh.

Obviousness comes from a combination of literacy, exposure to ideas, and life experience. Not everyone can or will study thermodynamics and user experience like me, or study physics and business like Elon Musk. I'm frankly a poor judge of what's obvious to some and non-obvious others. This is one reason I continue to write.

"Eph" Sparrow's Hand Written Lecture Notes

"Eph" Sparrow's Hand Written Lecture Notes

Posted on August 12, 2013 .