I’ll admit that I’m about three weeks behind in reading the New Yorker. Just when I get through one, another lands in my mailbox, and I’m right where I started. And if I’m three weeks behind in reading, I’m about two months behind in thinking and processing what I’ve read.
In the ‘Education Issue’ from Sept. 4, 2006 there was an article about the mountain college, Deep Springs that really struck a chord with me.
About 6 years ago, I was a senior in High School, and utterly confused and angry about having to go to 4 more years of school, I applied to Deep Springs. I had no idea what I got myself in to. After a couple months which included a total of 7 essays, including topics like ‘Describe Manhood in the 20th Century’, and a 5 day stay at the Deep Springs campus, I got the ‘thin envelope’ that meant I was not accepted. My path after that changed drastically. Instead of going directly to college, I decided to spend the year in Israel, and though I had my gripes with the program had an amazing experience.
Examining these decisions and moments in a very crucial time in my life made me think about the nature of fate and how it relates to logic and therefore code.
In any programming language, the most simple logical operator is the if/else statement. In Ruby you could represent a decision with
if College::DEEP_SPRINGS.accepted? College::DEEP_SPRINGS.attend else Israel.live_in(1.year) end
That is an extremely simplified version of that point in my life. Each statement within an if or else can be considered a block, though this block could also contain another decision or statement, and so on add infinitum. If we represented all the decisions in our life in this manner, as logical statements, how deep would the block go? Is it infinite? In other words can we get to the exact same place in our lives from any number of different paths, or are we forever following smaller and smaller veins of a branching tree?
Original Image Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/michekerr/173921630/