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TIL Special: The Enduring

What is this? I’ve liked many things throughout the years. While some have fallen out of my attention, others remain firmly cemented in my memories and feelings. So, I’ve decided to start a mini-series where each week (hopefully), I pick something random that I like or have liked and discuss it, why I like it, and its impact on me. These things can be varied, and range from more trivial matters such as my favourite animal, to books, games, and movies I’ve liked, to topics that have shaped who I am as a person. The posts, accordingly, will vary in length. See my rating system here.

This isn’t quite a real TIL since it’s touching on such an ambiguous idea, but these thoughts have been baking in my head for a while now so I wanted to get them out “on paper”, so to speak. So without further ado, let’s go.

I’m trying to articulate a particular set of values that guide both my preferences in what I consume, as well as how I would like to act and what things I want to present to the world. It’s both an aesthetic and functional style that shapes how I think about things a lot.

And that is: enduring, long-living things, that have stood the test of time.

I wish there was a better English word to articulate what I mean, but nothing came up when I googled “synonym of stand the test of time”, so I’ll just have to explain by listing a bunch of seemingly unrelated examples that all have this thematic thread running through them.

  • A spartan and warty, yet flexible and proven text editor, that has outlasted and will probably outlast many of its peers.
  • A worn hand tool, manufactured with quality in mind, heavily yet carefully used for decades, that still lasts to the present. Contrast with tools that are cheap in both price and construction, to be used until broken, then discarded as waste.
  • A language and writing system passed down from elders and ancestors of millenia ago, although no longer aligned with common vernacular, yet nonetheless providing a valuable window into a rich culture filled with art and literature.
  • A well-engineered codebase, cleanly constructed, carefully engineered, and tended to like a garden. One that is free of hacks, quick fixes, and blind copy-pasting. One that can last after its original maintainers eventually retire and leave the project.
  • A loving relationship, both platonic or romantic, that is established upon a foundation of mutual understanding, mutual interest, and mutual respect, not upon the fickle and superficial, and that is again tended to and nurtured carefully over a long period of time.

These things guide me in the relationships I hope to establish, the way I conduct myself when doing software engineering both at work and when modding, and in the sorts of skills and knowledge I’d like to invest in learning.

I wish I had a better way to articulate what this feeling is, if anyone can better express this feel free to send a comment. Speaking of comments, I’ll start to pre-establish email threads on the comment mailing list, so that you can simply click the link in the footer of each post and instantly get a popup to post to the list.