Not really a political post today, but I just wanted to capture a couple of videos that I found to be inspiring this year. Not in the sense of getting you fired up to go run a marathon or something, but just a couple of videos that motivated my behavior. They helped me recognize what's important in my personal life and also inspired me to pursue a goal that I've aspired to accomplish but never have.
The first is from a guy that lives as an extreme minimalist. I found the whole concept that we don't really need much stuff liberating. Also that the things we really value are things money can't buy. It tells me that it can make sense to work for others (like a corporation) in order to meet my own basic needs, but beyond that I should focus on myself. So I don't want to work like a mad man so I can have money to buy a bigger house that I wouldn't care about. Doing that deprives me of time I could spend doing things that are actually valuable to me, like cultivating relationships with friends and family, or developing an interesting skill.
I think this guy doesn't have children, so he has different options than I do, but this doesn't change the underlying point. The main thing that will keep me working for a while is that my kids will probably want to go to college and I want to help them with that, but after that I could see myself exiting the corporate world, assuming I've managed to save enough to meet my own basic needs. Living simply makes that feasible.
The next is from a guy that simply convinced me that if you've long aspired to learn a foreign language and have failed it's not because you have some personal inability to do it. Anyone of normal mental capacity can do it. This kind of reinforces the above video. The things that I really would value are not posessions, but things that are within me. If I possess a skill, that would matter a lot more to me than a fancy car. I've always been impressed with others that can speak multiple languages, so I guess I also aspire to have that skill as well. This guy convinced me that I can, so I'm trying.
Almost arbitrarily I picked Mandarin. I just happened to be at the library and saw some materials. Also I work with people from China and also in China regularly, so I figured I'd have plenty of people I could talk to and ask questions. It's been fun so far. What I didn't realize though when I started is I've picked a language that's pretty tough for native English speakers. I assumed it would be tougher, but according to the FSI it's more tough than I realized. If I could go back in time I might instead go with Spanish. But I'm having fun anyway, and I think it will feel all the more rewarding if I can achieve it. And I can certainly learn Spanish later, which I actually plan to do.