None of this matters when you’re dead
Or why I don’t care that my decade worth of blog content has been lost.
I have loads of stuff in my house and it freaks me out because I don’t need most of it, yet it is still sitting around, getting in the way. It’s random stuff, collected over the years, and I promise myself every few weeks that I’ll find a half day to sift through it, keep the good stuff, and bin the rest. But I have 3 year old twins, so it never happens :)
Recently, someone said something to me that made me think differently about this. They said that when you die, some unfortunate family member or friend has to go around to your house and sort out your stuff. In reality what happens is that they throw most of it in the bin without even going through it. Honestly all this stuff in my house is basically worthless.
So I should probably do the same, just bin it all, and after 5 minutes of wondering, I’d likely move on and feel happier.
I recently learned that the same is true with what I write, and probably with what I help design and build.
I’ve maintained a blog for about a decade, and over those years have oscillated between writing weekly, and going months without writing anything. Recently, through a turn of events I can only describe as the worst hosting service and customer service imaginable, my blog was deleted. I have some content stuck in some weird Wordpress file that won’t work, but basically it’s gone. All of it. There were some good posts in there, content people linked to, content I hung some part of my reputation on.
After initially freaking out about the deleted content, I came to realise that I don’t really care. Writing is for now. To help me think. To help me figure stuff out. To share some ideas that others might find valuable, here and now. If things I write are valuable to people 5 or 10 years from now, that’s a cool bonus, but it doesn’t really matter.
What I wrote years ago doesn’t matter now. What matters now is what I write now.
I now think the same is true for what I designed in the past. I was lucky enough to work on some cool things like the early versions of the Gmail and YouTube mobile apps, but it doesn’t matter anymore. No one remembers those versions of those apps, and nor should they. What you’re going to do in the future is way more important than what you’ve done in the past.
So my advice is to live in the moment and don’t hark back to past glories. Write for today, design for today. And don’t be afraid to just delete all your old stuff. You’re not going to miss it anyway.