Lowering the Barrier

Making programming (everything) more accessible

02 Apr 2021


I passed 100 prayer flags strung on a wire over the creek with the morning sun shining through them and thought how adventurers, the truest and finest, were the least encumbered people I’d ever known, had the least to protect. The rest of us acquire not just material things but also education, careers, advancement, everything entailing politics and caution. We acquire lovers, spouses, children, homes. We repeat the moves that have succeeded before, and eventually, security triumphs over risk. The seven paddlers didn’t own anything. Most of them didn’t even have a car. Most of the time, they had no steady girl to go back to. They collected nothing but stories. Maybe freedom really is nothing left to lose. You had it once in childhood, when it was okay to climb a tree, to paint a crazy picture and wipe out on your bike, to get hurt. The spirit of risk gradually takes its leave. It follows the wild cries of joy and pain down the wind, through the hedgerow, growing ever fainter. What was that sound? A dog barking far off? That was our life calling to us, the one that was vigorous and undefended and curious.

— Peter Heller, Hell or High Water

By the time you’re writing quotations about living life to the full and taking risks, you’re too far gone. Yet we must find the antidote. As kids spend more and more of their days under adult supervision, their freedom “to get hurt” dwindles.

The only remedy I’ve found for my adult brain is to ask “why not?” Usually there’s no good reason.