Jan 172012

Lima, Peru

Have you ever found an answer, but wondered what the question was?

I have found an answer, I know what I would like to do. My intuition is very strong, it feels right. Yet when I think about it it’s very very strange. Stupid even. I trust my intuition, but I all my rationalizations seem to fall short; I cannot find a satisfactory reason why I want this. Still, I found an answer…

Inspiration for this idea came (partially) from some science fiction books (I would highly recommend reading these. I have all of the mentioned books and would be happy to lend them out).

In the Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson), on colonized Mars a “give economy” is developed (next to more traditional forms of economy); when bartering for goods or services, it is the objective to give as much as possible whilst accepting as little as possible in return. Because both sides try to do this, a very fair outcome results.

In Accelerando (by Charles Stross), the main character starts out as an “idea distributor”. By combining the latest information with a lot of creativity he generates extremely valuable (business) ideas, which he then gives away. The people receiving these ideas proceed to get very rich from them. The main character lives off of the gifts that he receives from the grateful people he donated his ideas to.

I would like to give away my skills and expertise (give away as in provide for free. I don’t think it is actually possible to “cut out” my skills and implant them in someone else. Perhaps teaching is the closest you could get, with the added benefit that the original owner gets to keep the skills herself as well (and perhaps even broadens them by her teaching). This is obviously all beside the point…).

In a previous post I wrote that I never wanted to work for another day. I do however enjoy co-operating with people. I do however love a good challenge. Work provides both of these. I would like to work. For free (if you’re doing it for free, it’s can’t be real work, right?). I would like to help out, to give, to make a contribution. In a way that I enjoy, where I can learn and use what I learned before. For a day, a week, a month, a year. I will work, without getting paid.

“That’s a stupid idea! Why would you do something for free if you can get paid for it?!?”

Good question. As I already wrote I don’t know why I want this. It just seems like the right thing to do in my life at this moment (ok, perhaps not this moment but more the moment I return to the Netherlands. Or perhaps I’ll find some opportunities here as well…)

“How are you going to live without earning money?!?”

I don’t know. Perhaps generosity really does beget generosity (I’ll be happy to receive when someone wants to give something back). Perhaps my book (which is currently all of 3 pages long) will pay my way. Perhaps I’ll drain away my last bits of savings and be forced to go back to a normal job. Who knows? It will however be an interesting experiment!

This is what my heart tells me, this is what my muse whispers in my ear. The only risks I see at this moment are monetary and I can burden those for a bit (oh, and being ridiculed, but that’s one of the things I don’t want to worry about anymore; let’s not have that stop me!). So, Let’s try this!

Thus, if you have an interesting challenge in a good working environment, which is not too far away from my current location (wherever that might be when you read this) that could use some time from a mathematician / quantitative modeler / project manager (hey, if I’m going to give my time away, at least I can be picky about where I give it, right?), contact me! Perhaps I can help!

This post was categorized under both “Personal Development” (I hope for obvious reasons) and “Improving the World”. I believe that a lot of people would be more happy if they focused less on what they get and more on what they give. In the spirit of “practice what you preach” and “leading by example” I feel that this experiment could be inspirational to these people (though I certainly don’t expect anything as drastic as my crazy schemes from anybody else).