Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

–Nelson Mandela

It’s a small, wonderful world after all

Today I had a wonderful experience and it came at the most opportune time. Lately I have been wracked with doubt – I wonder if anyone will ever read any of the books I’ve written or if the rejection letters are right. Should I give up? Should I stop trying? Why should I bother writing if no one is going to read and enjoy what I’ve written?

A week or so ago I was flitting about Instagram as I usually do, posting the typical inane pictures of food or pictures of my Jeep. Every once in a while, I will post a picture indicating my current progress in learning Chinese. These pictures have led to a few likes on instagram from people in China, which made me extremely happy. I found instagram accounts posting Chinese vocabulary and a few seemingly random people who happen to live in China.

This morning I was looking through my instagram feed and I noticed that one of these people from China was reading a book on Microsoft Integration Services – a server that, among many other things, can perform automated import, conversion, and export of various types of files, typically used for business partner communication. I made a comment something to the effect of “ew” because I’ve never been much of a fan of working with this type of software.

After a stream of back and forth comments, I end up finding out that this person on instagram (who lives in China, literally “halfway around the world”) read one of my books on computer programming while he was in college. It was reading this book that inspired him to go on to apply for a job with Microsoft where he actually begins work in a few weeks. Further, this guy said that he was a big fan of my work.

How amazing is it that through a photo sharing app two people connect out of a shared hashtag for learning Mandarin and eventually discover that one of them is a huge fan of the other’s completely unrelated work?

When people ask me what I want to do as a career, I tell them that I want to inspire and to educate. Sure, I like coding, but coding is a means to an end. What I need to do, the thing that drives me inexorably forward, is a need to build.

The idea that halfway around the world, someone I never met read something I wrote and it inspired them is unbelievably gratifying. It makes it all worth it. All the years of writing books, of learning technology, of honing the skills of teaching and infecting others with my enthusiasm for technology and code – all of that is immediately worth it when I discover that I have made a difference in just one life.

And so, as I finish this blog post about the serendipitous connection of two people across the world via technology and related to technology I will take this as a sign that somewhere, someday, someone will read one of my fiction stories and they will love it and somehow, some way, something in that book will stir them to action, inspire them, or give them hope.

I’ve got to finish this post up now, I’ve got tons of writing to do!

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