Motivation can be hard to come by. If you were to aggregate my motivation from all facets of life and plot it as a function of time, the recent past would likely be a local minimum in the curve. I’m currently investigating why.

The set of course packets by Leon Schram was the first exposure I had to programming. There was very little consolation for how dry they were; at the time, I had no interest in pursuing computer science as a field of study so summoning the motivation to actually read the packets did not come easily. So it’s not surprising that the only trinkets of information that I retained from the packets have nothing to do with the difference between ArrayLists and LinkedLists or how multiple inheritance works. The most important lesson I learned from Schram has little to do with computer science — at least explicitly. At the very beginning of the very first packet, he introduces himself and along with a concept that seemed like a personal credo of his — an equation concerned more with personal insight than mathematical complexity. It read:

Bewilderment + Exposure = Obvious

Well, that’s obvious. Upon first coming into contact with something that is foreign to you, you enter a state of bewilderment. The length of time any individual person spends bewildered tends to vary. But regardless of how bewildered you are when you first encounter something new, when you’ve been exposed to that thing long enough — you’ve added sufficient exposure into the equation — surely enough what was once incomprehensible becomes incredibly (for lack of a better word) obvious.

The interesting part about this equation is that the statement of the equation exemplified itself to me. When I was wide-eyed and impressionable, I first read the quote and definitely did not apply it to my own life or appreciate its nuances or understand as deeply as I do now. (I’m sure there’s a good argument for why I still don’t understand the statement all that deeply; maybe this post can serve as its rebuttal.) At the time, I hardly understood it at all. I was bewildered.

As you may have gathered, that is no longer the case. Considering the dramatic paragraph separation I used to ensure that it was seen, it’s rather obvious that I appreciate the equation greatly — or at least enough to have dwelled on it for over 200 words now. However, despite my appreciation, I do find it to be painstakingly self-evident. To me, it’s not an idea that feels like it would take hours of deep thought and consideration to come up with. It just seems like it was always there. And now looking back on it I realize that I’d taken it for granted because it became obvious. And it became obvious because I had been exposed to it for long enough.