Out of the Ashes

After every 6 days of force-fed information, instead of going out and living my life as any human being should, I commit to staying in to review - to perfect my broken craft. I’m not the kind of person when left to my own devices will display solid steel will to do what I know I should do - too many distractions.

So, in comes my comrade in education. We shared the same programming prep class back in October and we both have the goal to become software engineers. But my friend will travel that road on his own time. We are both in unique situations that benefit each other. I teach him what I’ve learned as a form of review, and he is willing to fight through the frustration of grasping a concept.

The lesson of the day included N-queens. We spent the whole day on the ‘easy’ parts that solved for simple conflict detection. The frustration was constant for him, but I’ve resolved to never divulge the answers. I only offer questions in the hopes that he will finally grapple the idea I want him to understand.

With every “I don’t know,” came another studied question. Like McGregor circling his opponent, searching for all the different angles to victory. I too, was finding my range with the task at hand. With this deliberate introspection of the problem, the insistent badgering of this resilient, yet overtly irritated human yellow ducky, I found myself being able to divorce from ideas that I’ve already tried.

I saw different paths that still ultimately led to the same conclusion. As my friend slowly inched his way towards the finish line, I allowed myself to mentally traverse all the various avenues, combinations, and transitions. Every time he would find himself in a dead end, we would explore why it was before backing up and continuing on. When he would commit the same mistakes, he would immediately identify the problem and correct himself.

We were not only developing a certain kind of foresight towards problem solving, but also a skill set perfect for show and tell at any interview. I now find it easier to stop myself from committing too much to a certain way of doing things and willing to explore other options.

I believe this laborious practice will deliver me safely to my ultimate goal. Every week, I haphazardly introduce ideas into my mind. But, on Sundays, I not only solidify them, but expand them as well.