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The Paradox of Transcendence

Published 12/21/2020

Becoming enlightened may not mean rising above everything. Instead, maybe it means zooming in.

It's easy to believe that as we continue to get older, we care less and less about the details, and we care more about the "big picture." Interestingly, if you study individuals with high levels of excellence and experience, they tend to care deeply about the details and notice things others may not. This expansion of the current moment is the paradox of transcendence - only once we care deeply about the present moment, enough to notice the minute details, can we rise above it.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
What are you overlooking? More specifically, what are the things that you feel you have gone above and beyond? And you no longer need to think about? In today's episode, we're going to talk about this idea of transcendence. And hopefully I can provide you a different perspective. My name is Jonathan Coutrel, you're listening to Developer Tea and my goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. We're going to try something a little bit different today. Today's episode is a very focused, specific episode on this idea of a paradox of transcendence. Before we get into that discussion, I want to talk about today's awesome sponsor, Linode. With Linode, you can simplify your infrastructure and cut your cloud bills in half. With Linode's Linux virtual machines, you can develop deploy and scale your modern applications faster and easier. Whether you're developing a personal project or managing larger workloads, you deserve simple, affordable, accessible cloud computing solutions. And here's something that Linode has gotten right. With relation to today's episode, Linode knows how to focus on the fundamentals. If it runs on Linux, it runs on Linode. Linode's support has a single tier. This is the fundamentals. They have a single tier. No matter what your investment in your Linode stack is, you're going to get the same level of support. So as you scale, Linode is going to be there every step of the way. Not only that, but Linode is invested in the long haul. They're not trying to get $5 or $10 out of you here and there. Right now, they're actually going to give you $100 towards any service on Linode. You can use that on S3 compatible object storage or manage Kubernetes. Of course, you can use it on compute instances. Head over to Linode.com slash Developer Tea and click the Create Free Account button to get started. Linode for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So we're talking about this paradox today. The paradox of transcendence is what I'm calling it. I don't know that I'm the first that came up with this idea. Certainly, other people have noticed it because it's very straightforward to understand once you see it in action. But this paradox of transcendence is this idea that we assume, maybe intuitively, that as we become more experienced or as we become more aware, as we become more enlightened, whatever term you want to throw into that gap between the novice and the high level, deeply experienced person, we assume intuitively that we're going to stop caring about those details, that we put all of the details on some kind of automatic setting, right? Autopilot. And that everything kind of takes care of itself. We can imagine that the highest level athletes, they don't really think about those small fundamentals. And hopefully, you can see where we're going with this because the paradox is that's absolutely not true. And there is this false dichotomy that we can find if we Google this idea that fundamentals are somehow opposed to the details. That the fundamentals are kind of the big movements. Let's say you're in the weightlifting. The fundamentals are the two or three, maybe the four big lifts that you do in the gym and that the details are all the extra lifts. But there's more to the story than that. The paradox of transcendence is the idea that as you become more experienced and as you continue to gain more insight or spend more time with a given subject, you realize that there are details in the fundamentals, that there are small minute changes in the way that you would normally do something that seems very simple. And so that paradox is that as we transcend something, the visual that you can imagine is that we're kind of going above this thing. As we master a subject, we become intimately more interested or more invested in the minutia and the details of that subject. And you can find this in sports. You can find this in knowledge games like chess, for example. The expressions that a lot of people, especially the very experienced, the kind of world-class people in each of these areas, the way that they talk about them is with this concept of caring very much about the smallest detail of the most, in some ways, mind-numbing detail or fundamental of the game. Getting back to the fundamentals, you hear world-class coaches talking about this all the time. And focusing on the slightest changes. One of imagining transcendence as going above something, as moving from down in the dirt to up in the air, for example. I want you to imagine this idea of enlightenment or transcendence as zooming into something. You're becoming more aware of the detail. You're becoming more aware of all of the intricacies of those individual moments. Rather than seeing it all as one large rough picture, you're now seeing a much more detailed, higher resolution version of what you once saw. And what the effect of this, as engineers, what the effect is, is we can start seeing things in code that seemingly were invisible before. We become much more aware of code smells, for example, or we might become more aware of a direction that our team is taking. And this really is a picture of intuition, but it's also a picture of curiosity and becoming interested in these details because you have so much of a grip on them. This is the idea that the experience actually gives you more of a grip so you can look at something much more closely. You can get much more involved at a much lower level. And again, we can see this throughout all kinds of world-class performers. We can also see it in entrepreneurs. The greatest business leaders typically care very much about the smallest details in their business. They're not totally divorced from those small details. Instead, they become much more acquainted with them. I hope this idea that transcendence or enlightenment or having a very high level of experience, claiming the expert in a subject does not absolve you from the details. It doesn't lift you up and out of them, but instead the kind of the picture of the person who is at that level is zoomed way into those details. You care very much about them. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to today's sponsor, Lin-Od. Head over to linnow.com slash Developer Teato learn more about the $100 worth of free credit. Make sure you create a new account. That's how you get that free credit at that link. That's linnow.com slash Developer Tea. This episode and every other episode of Developer Teacan be found on spec.fm. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. This episode was produced by Sarah Jackson. Till next time, enjoy your tea.