Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Articles → Getting past it

I love owning as little as possible.

Once you’ve moved a few times, packing and lugging piles of stuff you’ve acquired over the years, you can really appreciate the simple freedom of letting old stuff go, and refusing to acquire new stuff.

But minimalism is usually a quirk of the guilty affluent. Magazines about it sell well in expensive organic grocery stores. People without still want more.

I love open-source software.

Once you’ve felt trapped by expensive proprietary software lock-ins, you can really appreciate free open-source community-developed software like Firefox, Ubuntu, and GiMP.

But in many poor developing nations that seem like they’d need it most, attempts to integrate free software are refused, saying it’s cheating people out of learning the best software used in the developed world.

I love independent musicians.

Once you’ve tangled with the dirty politics and greed that run the business of massive fame, or felt the sick post-signing regret realizing the executive that owns your music is now your boss, you can really appreciate the “indie” world, where you can make a living owning your own music, and are your own boss.

But many musicians are still trying to get signed.

Getting past it:

With each example, I realized that getting to the more peaceful place means getting past the original goal. It’s only after you’ve had too much stuff, proprietary software lock-ins, or bad music biz dealings that you can appreciate the better option by comparison!

Which of course reminds me of many mistakes I’ve made in relationships, business, management or programming. I had to make the mistake to feel the pain and realize why it was a mistake.

Or did I?

We all know that through vivid storytelling (whether oral, written, or movies) you can feel you’ve experienced something, just by hearing it.

Maybe we need more vivid stories that can help people feel the pain of the mistake vicariously without having to make the mistake?