A Thousand Men

A Thousand Men - My Dust in the Ether

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After I listened to Merlin Mann’s podcast last night I realized that I needed to really think about this process of passion and see if I can develop my own list.  His main theme seems to be Fear - become more efficient so you have more time to do something scary and interesting, not just process more email.  His secondary theme is based on “First, Care”, his now famous blog post, and also future-proof your passion.  Which is where my own bucket list of indecision comes from. Oh, and for goodness sakes - SHIP something !

So I put down my iPhone and headphones, and sat back and waited for the inspiration to hit me.  Nope, nothing.  OK, perhaps I should just list what my interest are:

1. Technology

2. Contemporary architecture

3. Writing

And believe it or not,

4. Information design and architecture


Firstly, it’s the industry I have been involved in for the past twenty years.  I started late and yet I have managed to forge a decent career ranging from project manager to Notes developer, to network engineer and finally a network architect.  I know it and I understand it.  When I am tired and don’t feel like it is a passion, I still have trouble going a day without  some form of technology in my hands.  So if I had to rank the extent of my passion as a score out of ten, I would give it about an 8.

Contemporary architecture

For as long as I can remember this is something I have loved long before I knew how important it was the first time around forty years ago.  I grew up on what has become the set of Mad Men. 

I remember quite clearly sitting on the floor of my living room at home as a young boy and playing with a form of construction set that used square plastic sections that snapped together to form frames; with enough of them I could form a series of wall and eventually an entire building.  After the frame is snapped into place, you could then insert colored opaque windows to produce that shiny skyscraper look.  I loved it then and I love the real thing now.  If somebody asked me what I wanted for my birthday I would ask for that set again.  Wish I knew what the heck it is called.  Contemporary Architecture - both the original era, and the 21st century version, gets a 7 in my rankings of passionate endeavours.


I have been writing since 1976.  I have the original note book from every year and I still write as often as I can.  I still don’t have any skill, but I cannot go for very long without doing it.  It is definitely a passion, but I need to temper this with notions of making a living.  I have a number of projects on the fire at the moment, including a half finished book, a 14 episode television series I am developing, and two feature length screenplays.  Passion ranking = 9, but input is sporadic due to having that full time technology job thingy.

Information design and architecture:

Also for as long as I have been in an office environment I have been complaining about the overwhelming amount of paperwork and so-called processes, and the scarcity and inconsistency of documentation design and systems.  To say that the electronic age has assisted this in some way is a fallacy of the modern era. All we have now is a million web pages, intranet sites and team rooms that are poorly designed and lack any user experience intelligence.  I am not an expert in this field, but having to use them on a daily basis makes me somewhat qualified to state how poor they are.  With no end in sight, i want to make sure that whatever presentation material I need to make should be simpler and more audience-friendly.  It is definitely a passion to improve my skills even if my motivation is not to make material that is as poor as I see today.  Passion index = 9.  I have no idea what that is on the Nerd index.

Those are just the recurring themes.  I mean, I am interested in another 996 things (hence I am athousandmen), if you include music, art, photography, virology, immunology, cycling, adventure racing, triathlon - you get the idea.  These are the four things I have had in my life for the past 40 years.  You would think that a grown man would have worked out what he wants to do when he grows up, huh.  The good news is that I have never lost my enthusiasm for learning, and I never tired of getting stuff wrong in order to move past the ways in which things wouldn’t be successful - just like Thomas Edison who worked out a hundred ways NOT to make a light bulb.

So after all that, how on earth can I definitively state what my passion is?  Am I only meant to have one - what are the rules on this?  That’s why my blog is called ” A Thousand Men”.  When I watch those fabulous TED presentations, I feel compelled to answer this question for myself as soon as possible.  I must admit I do love to give presentations, and I am not afraid of standing in front of hundreds of people, so one goal would be to deliver a presentation at a TED conference one day - if only I could work out what my passion is.

Since I am having trouble deciding, I am going to park this idea for a while, and make a note to come back from time to time and see what comes out.  Perhaps my current passion is solving this question itself.

"If Courage be my light - lead the way"

Pete McCrystal - 2004

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