Remembering by living

Aaron has left us. Beautiful and honest eulogies pouring in from around the world make it clear how many people and ideas his short life touched. You should go read those. But for my own personal emotional processing, I’m going to borrow a mourning practice from my friend Sasha. When you lose someone important, you can personally honor their passing by incorporating some of their behaviors, values, and traits into your own life. Adopting a part of them keeps them alive in your own life, but also the lives of others.

From what I knew of Aaron and from what I’ve read this week, I’m going with these:

  • Liberally get in touch with people whose work you admire, even if you have no clear reason or zero ulterior motive, just to let them know it’s great.
  • Join the challenges that need champions. “That’s a problem I want to be a part of,” one post put it.
  • Practice that more natural method of self-education, that homeschool spirit of pursuing the things you’re excited by without regard for when the test will be, to learn in very great detail because of the natural interest inside you that must be quenched. Embrace the Wikipedia wormholes that transport you so quickly through time.
  • Accept people for their minds, not their appearance or position, and accept that many young people’s personalities are far more developed than we tend to give them credit for.
  • Double down on your natural enthusiasm for improving accessibility to human knowledge. The advancement of the human race depends on us learning more, but also, and probably in larger numbers, teaching and sharing more of what “we” already know.
  • And, of course, “Being a programmer is like finding out you have magic powers”:
AaronSW speaks at DC Week 2011
AaronSW speaks at DC Week 2011

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