in praise of the mundane
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling special. From our own perspective we seem so original and in many respects we really are unique. Western society rightly encourages us to celebrate the things that make us special. Individuality is virtuous.
In reality, we’re much more similar than we are different. The great ideas we have are at best incremental improvements on existing theory. At worst, they’re complete plagiarism. Even the problems we face are just as commonplace. Nothing is new. Nothing is special. If you think otherwise, you’re only deluding yourself. As the ecclesiast said so long ago:
That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new?” Already it has existed for ages Which were before us.
Ecclesiastes 1:9,10 NASB
There is nothing new under the sun, and yet we act as though there is. I see this pattern all over the place in the software world. We worry and fret over our silly problems and bite our nails wondering how to solve the same problems that have been solved countless times before. We think, “Here is some problem that is uniquely mine. In fact, this problem is so unique that I must invent a new kind of solution.”