Trajectory

[45:08] Guy Raz: If you could go back to Nolan Bushnell in the late 70s or early 80s and say, “hey, you know, I wanna give you some advice”, what would you tell yourself?

[45:19] Nolan Bushnell: Boy, that’s a real hard one because, you know I… Some of the bad decisions I’ve made, I’m not sure if I’d like my life to not have had them. And I’m not sure that if I were to give myself advice and change that trajectory, I would end up where I am right now. And I like where I am.

—”Atari & Chuck E. Cheese’s: Nolan Bushnell“, How I Built This, 2018-03-25.


That makes a good tonic for this. I don’t really have to be convinced that it’s a good thought. When in the right mood—or at least not in the wrong one—I think the same way. But on the other hand I’m also a serial optimizer. Just tweak one more variable and get it right. One more. One more. That’s what made the endurance running so attractive: so many variables and so much available to work on them.

And the past is also like that, right? And the model is so much more developed because you can see—at least from one perspective—how things turned out, so you can kind of work the result backwards and try to reverse engineer how it turned out that way. Apply that kind of model to Future You and maybe there’s something there worth thinking about. Unless the voices in your head have more discipline than the ones in mine, that’s not how it works. In mine, it’s just picking and picking and picking at suboptimal performances.

But what the hell? Remembered line from a long-forgotten poem: Buy the ticket, take the ride.

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