I ended up getting a ticket to O’Riley’s Software Architect Conference that is taking place next week in San Fransisco. This opportunity found its way to me through John Sonmez from Simple Programmer. I have followed Simple Programmer from the start of my software journey.
I have watched quite a few of his videos and he started a Patreon a while back ago. One of the rewards is access to the Simple Programmer FaceBook group.
This Friday John posted:
Ok, first person to comment here (who will actually attend), get’s a free O’Reilly’s Software Architecture Conference Gold pass (value of $2495).
Just a thank you to being a patron and being part of the community.
I originally saw this at work from a FaceBook notification, but didn’t give it much thought. I never thought about going to San Fransisco before and wasn’t going to post if I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it.
It wasn’t until I got home that I saw a few people post, but none of them were firm commitments (i.e. I will go if I get the ticket). I looked up San Fransisco flights and saw you could get there in just over 2 hours on a plane from Vancouver, which is where I live. This made it seem very doable, so I posted “I’ll go”.
I am really happy for this opportunity. I found a place to stay on AirBnb walking distance from the conference at a reasonable rate. Conferences seem a lot more exciting to me than they did on Friday. No one cares about that which they have not experienced, I suppose.
Refusal of the Call
A few years ago I would have taken the easy route and not even consider posting to receive the gift. Joseph Campbell talks about this in his idea of the “mono-myth” as found in the Hero’s Journey. The part I’ve thinking about is the refusal of the call. That was a subtle point I missed the first time I was introduced to Campbell.
I think a lot of the time people fail to overcome this point in many of the potential story arcs they could potentially participate in over their lifetimes. I know this is the case for me. Doing cool stuff is challenging and is a lot of work at times. It would be have been a lot easier for me to just stay at home next week.
Now I had to book my flights, figure out where I am staying, and deal with taking time off work (actually this one is easy to do with Koho‘s “powder days”). There was a part of me that didn’t want to go and tried to come up with excuses or reasons that I couldn’t go. When I thought about it, it makes sense complete sense for me to go. I don’t get opportunities like this every day. Still there was an inner inertia I had to overcome.
I think what’s subtle about the refusal of the call is that if the call is refused than the story never happens. You don’t know what you missed out on. The times you turn down opportunity never get talked about, its a non-event.
I read theories that mid-life crises are caused from people repeatedly refusing the call of adventure and never continuing on with their stories. They might stay in a job that makes them discontent, not break up with a mediocre romantic partner, or not learn to do that thing they always wanted to do but were afraid of failing at. They become victims of their own comfort.
These people end up experiencing great internal anguish because our own psychology is so dependent on narratives, and they lack one. This results in a “crises” just so they will have some kind of story to tell. We need stories to tell about ourselves so badly we will sub-conciously ruin our lifes just to get one.
Now I am sure mid-life crises are more complicated affairs than just this, but it illustrates how widely applicable learning about narrative is. The reason I go through the trouble of saying yes to things like this is an effort to keep myself psychologically healthy as much as it is to get ahead professionally. It is all to easy to say no to adventure and then wonder why each day feels the same.
I suspect we feel the refusal of the call a lot more than we would like to let onto, and its easy to not even realize you are doing it. Its natural to avoid expending energy, and often there will be no external pressure to accept it.
I arranged to fly out of Vancouver Sunday morning and will fly out of San Fransisco Wednesday evening. I’ll be staying a place I found on AirBnb near by. I also hope to ride in an Uber finally (they aren’t in Vancouver due to governmental pressure), and see a bit of San Fransisco at least.
I’ve never been a traveller myself. I was on a few road trips as a kid, and have been to the states a few times for boxing matches, but other than that I haven’t been on trips before. Travelling has never been something that interested me naturally. I’ve been considering it more recently from hearing about it from a few people I look up to. I think this conference might whet my appetite to see more of the world (see above).
After booking my arrangements I realized I should have flown out Saturday morning instead of Sunday so I’d have an extra day to see the city. It’s not worth it to me to re-arrange my arrangements now, but its something I am going to keep in mind for next time.
I looked at the conference schedule and it seems like there is a lot of choice in the materials being presented. I figure since I haven’t been to one of these events before, nor the city, there isn’t much point in planning much beyond how I am getting there, where I’ll stay, and how I’ll get back.
A big thank you goes out to John Sonmez for making all the content he does and for this amazing opportunity.
To everyone else I hope you will notice yourself refusing the call to adventure and say yes because of this post 🙂