A Lesson In Zen
...or when the burden is too much to bear
Yesterday I had a useful epiphany. It was a bit of a “lesson in zen”.
DISCLAIMER: I am no expert on zen. I am not Buddhist. I’m just a curious man who thinks too much.
Recently I’ve been listening to Akira The Don & Alan Watts’s “The Web Of Life 2”
And in that album Alan Watts talks a bit about zen, life, and all sorts of interesting things that might just make your head spin. That led me to reading and researching a bit more about what this Zen thing is all about anyway.
This led me to thinking about the idea of “living naturally”. But that is not exactly the right word. Spontaneously, maybe? No, that doesn’t quite explain the thought well either.
I guess it was more to the idea of living life as if you are in an improv skit. To “yes, and…” everything without premeditation or planning. You “just go with it” and see where the waves of life take you.
I don’t know that it’s a 100% unstructured way of living, but maybe a “minimum viable structure” to life. Something like…
I am hungry, I eat.
I am tired, I sleep.
I enjoy programming, so I write code.
Simply doing what you are going do and letting the rest of life take care of itself. Not a 100% irresponsible approach as much as being at peace with whatever comes your way.
I mean you still have to eat, sleep, etc. right?
Anyhow, my mind was floating along that kind of cloud and I realized something useful… I am carrying around too much weight in my head.
For the past few months, I’ve been working on re-creating Zero To Python In 30 Days, a Python course I created back in 2018. I thought about just editing it down and re-releasing it like I’ve done with some other Code Career Genius videos on my YouTube channel. But, when I went back and watched the originals I realized I could do a much better job today with them.
I decided to rebuild the entire course from scratch. New videos, updated code, and this time I’m adding full text lessons for each video. It’s like writing a book and creating videos at the same time.
It’s a much improved product, and it is going to be 100% free.
What I didn’t realize when I started was just how challenging of an undertaking this is. The first few lessons weren’t too bad. But, as I get deeper into creating this course, the material is more involved. It’s taken me months to get the first eleven days of material ready.
With the stress of my job, family, etc. it felt like it would take me a year to finish Zero To Python.
What sucks about that is the psychological weight. I’m one third through the project and it feels heavy. That weight makes it harder to want to make the next lesson. Which makes it take longer. The longer it takes, the heavier it feels.
I got to a point recently where I realized there was too much weight in my life in general. I’ve hit a kind of tipping point where it’s obvious to me that the solution to many of my problems is just to take on less of a burden.
Lighten the load… with everything!
So, I’m doing some spring cleaning/minimalism with many different things. I got rid of my big guitar amp and got a smaller, simpler amp. I’m getting rid of guitar pedals I don’t use. Old boxes are being thrown away. You get the idea.
That led to an interesting thought. What if I never finished Zero To Python In 30 Days? Can I throw that away?
Yes, I can.
I thought about it and realized that I don’t want the burden of finishing course anymore. It was a burden I put on myself, and I decided that while it’s a cool idea, I am not exactly thriving under the weight of it.
The weight must go.
So I set it down for a while. I had no idea if I’d pick it up again or not.
As I said earlier in this article, I’ve been thinking about zen and not carrying around such a burden in many areas of my life. And I realized that I have made a bit of a mistake.
The burden I took on was too heavy. (Obviously)
What if I turned the whole thing upside down?
You see, I wanted to create the whole course and then release each lesson daily for 30 days on this newsletter. I thought that would be super cool. But then, to get there I needed to have every lesson complete before I publish anything.
It’s 2023. Why not just hit publish when each lesson is done?
That is much simpler. Not nearly as heavy!
And then my brain freaks out and goes… but what if it is never finished?! Won’t they be mad? What if they are disappointed? That won’t be as good as the original idea!!!
I wanted to cling to that original idea, even if the weight of it was crushing me. I was being stupid. And as Gary Halbert used to say, “You better be tough if you’re going to be stupid”
Maybe I should try not being stupid about this. Put my ego aside and just go with the flow of it. When inspiration hits and the next lesson is ready, it gets published. It will be fine. In fact…
It might be more fun this way.
So, the new plan is throwing the old plan away and just winging it. As I have each lesson ready to go, I’ll send them out. I made a page to index the project, so people can use that to get the proper “do the course for 30 days in a row” experience if or when I finish the course.
It might never finish, and that’s fine. Whatever happens will happen.
The lesson I’m learning in all of this is while there is this rational part of my brain that really wants to make plans and structure and process and rules and all kinds of things like that… that is more of a burden that I’m willing to bear. I need to shut that part of my brain off for a while.
Time to throw all those plans away and just see what happens. Maybe it will be a good surprise. I don’t know. And it’s okay that I don’t know.
Better to have peace of mind, or perhaps peace from mind.
Better to have peace.
(So ends the lesson.)