Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Fastest Way To The Top

Most of my life, I've tried to take the fastest path I could find to the top. It's rarely worked well. At times, I've felt like an overachiever. At other times, I've felt like a total failure.

In November, after I realized that my job was headed south, I bought Rabbi Daniel Lapin's book "Thou Shall Prosper". I bought the 1st edition for Kindle and read it on my iPhone. It took months to finish reading. I digested it slowly. I've been wanting to find some way to work for myself for a while. I don't know if this is it or not, or if I still have to learn more. I don't know.

This isn't a tangent. I'm bringing two threads together. While I've been unemployed, I rediscovered Diablo. I started playing the first version in 1999 or 2000. I used to play a modem game with a guy from work. It was a great stress reliever. After a long day of development testing, I could go home, pop a cold beer, and fire up Diablo. I'd walk through the dungeons slaying monsters and pretending they were Lockheed Martin engineers. Until you've had to support them, you won't understand. I don't mean the monsters.

When Diablo II came out, I bought it. When I married Christina, we bought her a copy, and we played together over our home network. Then we bought the expansion pack.

Diablo II/Expansion and The Sims (the original) were the last games I really got into. I know at least that limitation of mine. Games take a lot of time, and with the reading I like to do, plus work and family, I couldn't dedicate the time to a game. So I didn't.

Then unemployment struck. Christina installed Diablo on Joshua's computer. Yes, we're total geeks and our 5 year old has his own computer. (I think Christina got her first computer when she was 5. I was 22.) I started playing, then went to my computer, installed Diablo II and the expansion pack with the latest patches from Blizzard and went to town. Joshua enjoys watching me.

For some reason, I like to play the Necromancer. I guess I like to have a little army following me around doing my work for me.

I think I went too fast though. Suddenly, I found myself on level 4 (Hell), with a Necromancer who didn't seem to be strong enough to handle the task. My skeletons and golem get slaughtered quickly, and my character can't get by without them. I've been slowly repeating earlier levels to gain experience so I can continue where I made it to. I'm trying to build up skills.

Sometimes I wonder if I've done that in "real life". Have I tried to charge up the mountain too fast, only to fall off a cliff?

In "Thou Shall Prosper", Rabbi Lapin uses mountain climbing as a metaphor. I'd love to tell you where to find it in the book, but I bought a Kindle copy. I don't own a Kindle. Kindle for PC is about as neutered a piece of software as you can get. It has no search function at all. (Note: it is planned for some time in the indefinite future). Barnes & Noble allows searching, notes and highlighting on their PC software, but they don't have anywhere near the content Amazon does.

I checked my iPhone, and somewhere around section 1606 (whatever that means- I think it's in chapter 4) Rabbi Lapin makes a metaphor about mountain climbing. I'd love to copy and paste out of the book, but Amazon doesn't allow that. As I remember (and I can't find it without SEARCH), he mentions that the best way to climb a mountain is not to go right up the face of it. Often, mountain climbers have to take paths that seem to lead them away from the mountain. But this is the best way to survive making it to the top.

Rabbi Lapin compares that to life. As I remember (darn you Amazon, for not allowing me to search the book I paid you for), he uses peace as an example. If we're at war, and we want to be at peace, we could easily surrender. That would meet the objective of peace. But chances are, that would leave us worse off than we started. So, in order to achieve a useful state of peace, we would have to make some moves that seem to take us away from the objective of peace in order to arrive at a state of peace. Rabbi, if you stumble on this blog post like you did the other one, I pray I did your words justice.

And so, I wonder if I haven't made the same mistake in my life: trying to go straight up the mountain. Should I have taken paths that appeared to lead away, in order to reach "the top"?

That is on the top of my mind as I struggle to find a new source of income.
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