What’s Up, Grandma Ji: Day 2

“ All innovation finds its analogue in nature…”

Remember that sixth-grade astronomy obsession you encouraged? Yeah, well thanks for the squandered popularity points. I’m still working off that deficit, Grams!

Anyway, it has come in use these days. I took the analogy I use with the tech guys I mentor, where I compare the rise of a business to that of a star.

I edited it way down because the tech kids are a different breed.

Image: © J. Cole

They represent the start-up idyll: The best and brightest dropout from super-important university, throws tradition to the wind and catches up with it in a Silicon Valley garage he — invariably and always he — rents for three grand a month now that the village people have caught on.

Unoriginal their set up may be, they, in their tried and true model, churn out brilliance. And their spawns of genius might yet change the world into a plume of smoke. And they’ll be declared the smartest minds which were by the two or so folk left bunking out the Sunnyvale Project in Utah.

Still, with all that sensibility there is a shortage of sense at times. It’s like their brilliance is mushroomed by a general lack of…lack. You know that spurt of character, wit, or charm that accompanies the slight of never having quite enough? How does that develop in the belly of abundance?

The fact that my students can be so creative without facing the adversity that typifies genius is a credit to the tutors and nannies that have offered for vicarious consumption their own biographies.

My mentees prove daily why conflating wisdom with intellect is wrongheaded. I know, I’m ranting now, and I will get back to my original gripe — I guess I’ve become a curmudgeon — but something happened in my class on Monday that really triggered all of this, including my writing this letter. So, indulge me this.

As I’ve suggested, my students were bred for greatness in commerce, politics, and first-world disease contraction. They are raised on a steady diet of case studies; bite-sized, bubble wrapped anecdotes, marked for immediate consumption and relieved of the burden of context.

Creativity is one thing, you know, Grams. And they produce it in spades. They have the space and time and anecdotes to do so.

But wisdom is only earned on the battle field, I believe.

It’s gained by filling in the gaps and connecting the dots, over and over again. Not by bite-sized anything.

Don’t you think, Grandma? You gotta do the pedestrian, blue collar labors of your craft to really benefit from its wisdom. No?

But these kids are so removed, so accommodated, to string together anything but code. That’s my feeling sometimes.

It’s really taxing mentoring them…

Anywho, back to my friends: I start to unveil the nuggets of wisdom usually reserved for those with a heavy purse and starry eyes: I demonstrate how like stars, we are all on a trajectory of growth from birth. I know this is elementary.


Dear Grandma,/Rosario →Ji: Round 1

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