The Answer of Life Part 7/42 - Mystery box

This idea of the mystery box was from J.J.Abrams talk from TED. Now I don’t mean to say I just ripped off his idea. It is more like his idea just provided the framework for me to place my latest thoughts.

Now I have spent a few years out of the investigation of the purpose of life. I have other things to blame for that. Work is draining and actually mind numbing sometimes, it seems that it not the actual work itself but the amount of hours you have to put in and sometimes when it is not challenging or motivating enough. That is for another post though.

ted mystery box So about the Mystery Box. Now in J.J.Abrams talk, he mentions this mystery box and how he doesn’t open it. He doesn’t know whats inside but the idea of not knowing what is inside seems to spur his imagination, which then shapes his processes when he directs his various films/TV shows. This is what the mystery box means to him.

Now I have my own version of the mystery box, for me I don’t have a hand me down from my grandfather but instead I have a more philosophical box. To me the idea of mystery is what spurs me to get up in the morning, the idea of solving puzzles in various forms is what keeps my entertained and happy. As I look back on my life this has been a recurring theme since I was a child.

When I was younger I not only wanted to know how everything worked, I needed to know (probably my overactive child brain working there). For me it was microwaves, TV sets, computers. I would just want to take them apart or look them up in books to see how the insides worked. The think was to learn how a fridge worked I had to learn a bunch of other stuff, like how low pressure gas lowers temperature. These concepts seems alien to me but as I went though both self and schooled education, it slowly made sense. This was mystery solving for me.

As I grew older I got into programming. I remember that holy shit moment when I learned “10 PRINT HELLO WORLD” in BASIC. Then I would spend hours trying to craft a simple number guessing game. So for me it was a blank canvas and I could produce something, a game that could be used by anyone. It was pretty cool and eventually led to more mystery solving.

At higher education I went into sociology, it was either that or chemistry and I was already doing physics and maths. So I figured a balance was needed. I didn’t do very well in sociology but it was amazing. I learned about different philosophies, how people believed the world worked and this led me to psychology, the study of the human mind. Now to me psychology is an ultimate mystery or the worst mystery ever made, either there is a complete solution or the solution changes all the time. Humans seem to me to be a mystery box but one that seems to be solvable. They are like set of variables which you can press a few buttons and see what happens and from that work out what is inside. This maybe an old school of psychology but seems to work with most humans I meet.

At university I went back to programming, the mystery here was debugging. Yes I enjoy debugging probably about the same if not more then programming the code itself. Now programming code has it’s rewards as outlined earlier, I can make something out of nothing, requiring the minimal amount of effort and I can reach a much larger number of people then I could with a physical product. The mystery of debugging still held a high place for me.

Even in today’s age I still look for that mystery buzz. I (unashamedly) stalk peoples digital lives, not because I have some ulterior motive, in fact what I find about people doesn’t interest me that much. For me it is the skill and talent to try and get that information without them finding out, that what makes it worth while. There are other practices I do that, in the wrong hands can be dangerous but I do it for the challenge. Also the psychology of people still continues to hold a way with me. The range of human behaviors and how people can manipulated even in the more adult years is fascinating. Sometime I just like to sit back in say a party of gathering or the workplace and just watch. Watch how other people try and move they way through the politics of work or how they put themselves across at a party where they don’t know the person. Now and again I get involved and try and sway a conversation this way or that. Like I said before it is just a big a puzzle but in this case I can arrange the pieces how I want to make a variety of solutions.

It does seems a bit melodramatic and when I look back in hindsight it does seem that way but when I am in the situation it seems like this is just a fun thing to do. To read people, to work out how many siblings someone has just based on their behavior, to work out who has the same interests as you without actually speaking about interests at all. This is all part of the fun and I enjoy it.

Answer to life… well it’s damn close.