Feynman on Purpose

Paul Signac, The Harbour at Marseilles (1906)

Paul Signac, The Harbour at Marseilles (1906)

I came across this Feynman quote on FS's Brain Food newsletter.

"Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do."

It's comforting to read this advice when I'm currently feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about my future. I'm doing a masters in data science program and I don't even like data science, or at least, the idea of it.

I have the dream of working in FAANG, or at least I saw other people did, and I wanted it too. The perks, the people, the status, how can I not aim for that? who could say no?

I always thought about who to become, a data scientist or engineer in a big tech company, but I don't think enough about what I want to do. And that's such a hard question for me to figure out.

Ever since college I feel like I've just been writing a bunch of low-quality articles which are just quick tutorials or brief explainers or listicles, doing lots of hackathons and learning web-dev, self-studying a bit of ML before losing interest, forcing myself to study statistics to graduate, consuming a bunch of information through blogs, podcasts, videos, and now recently, having an interest in art, and I feel like I don't know anything, and I'm not good enough to make it in the US.

I feel like I know a bit about a lot of things, but I'm still not an expert in anything. I don't have one thing that I'm really good at. I can learn fast, and I pick things up quick, but I don't know which road to take, which opportunity cost to forego, which doors to open and close.

But to think about what I like doing,

I like figuring things out, and I like doing research and going deep into rabbit holes, and then turn that information into something useful, like writing articles and provide value for people. I also like building things. I discovered this love after doing over a dozen hackathons. My dream is to build cool apps that I personally would want to use but that flame went out a week before my surgery in March, and after a few dizzy months I don't have the time to pick it back up now. I want to build something useful that provide joy to people.

Currently, I hope to work on the intersection of data, AI, climate, and on the side, building a startup and apps that provide joy and value.

Some more quotes by Feynman which I enjoy:

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing — that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.

Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.