If it won't be simple, it simply won't be. [Hire me, source code] by Miki Tebeka, CEO, 353Solutions

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Feynman On The Importance Of Playing

I'm reading "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" (very good read).
What he says about burnout, playing and doing the things you love is priceless:

But when it came time to do some research. I couldn't get to work. I was a little tired; I was not interested; I couldn't do research! ...

And then I thought to myself, "You know, what they think of you is so fantastic, it's impossible to live up to it. You have no responsibility to live up to it!"... 

Then I had another thought; Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I used to enjoy doing physics. Why did I enjoy it? I used to play with it. I used to do whatever I felt like doing - it didn't have to do with whether it was important for the development of nuclear physics...

So I get this new attitude ... I'm going to play with physics, whenever I want to, without worrying about any importance whatsoever.
Within a week I was in the cafeteria and some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air. ...

I had nothing to do, so I start to figure out the motion of the rotating plate...
And before I knew it (it was a very short time) I was "playing" - working, really - with the same old problem that I loved so much, that I had stopped working on when I went to Los Alamos; my thesis-type problems; all those old-fashioned wonderful things.
It was effortless. It was easy to play with these things. It was like uncorking a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly. ...

There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.

Go out and play, I'm sure you'll make wonderful things.

EDIT: Thanks for HN for proof reading this. Also found a more complete excerpt here.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice!
Where it says "throws a place in the air", it's really "a plate".
And thanks for posting!

Janus said...

Nice!
Where it says "Yo know", it's really "You know".
And thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

And where it says "Withing a week..." it should be "Within"

Anonymous said...

Nice!
Yo know, commas and periods are placed withing quotes at the end of a sentence.
And thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

Nice!
I think you're all pedantic dicks.

Anonymous said...

Nice!
Yo know, surely Feynman was himself a Dick.

Anonymous said...

Nice!
Not nice.

Anonymous said...

"Yo know, commas and periods are placed withing quotes at the end of a sentence."

Only in America do we follow this nonsensical convention. The UK (and the Internet at large) tends to favor the more logical usage where the thing being quoted is verbatim, and external sentence punctuation is kept outside the quote.

Corey McMahon said...

Feynman was the quintessential hacker! Great book BTW.

Anonymous said...

Yo know, nice quote.

Anonymous said...

Nice!
Yo know, TIL:

Only in America do we follow this nonsensical convention. The UK (and the Internet at large) tends to favor the more logical usage where the thing being quoted is verbatim, and external sentence punctuation is kept outside the quote.

Thanks for Anonymous!

Elizabeth said...

Dear Josie,
Sometimes I feel tired of my hobbies too! Sometimes I get bored of playing piano and think that I don’t want to continue. Still, I keep it up and then one day I come across something new and exciting like a new style and fall right back into it.
-Elizabeth

Blog Archive