Highland Park, Illinois — December 16, 2004

At home my days merge into the whiteish undifferentiated blur that made up much of my life before I left for Stanford. I live inside a largely-white room, looking at the mostly-white screen of my computer, doing various things which are just interesting enough to keep me from noticing that time is passing but don’t really give me any sense of accomplishment. I feel as if I’m pouring time into a well, in the hopes of filling it up or something.

I rarely go outside, since I have to brace myself for the freezing cold and the wind just to open the door to get the mail. Instead, I sit at my desk. When that became too much effort, I moved my computer to my bed. I just lie here. It’s gotten so bad that after just a few days I can hardly walk, let alone run — my knees ache when I try to put my weight on them. And all the podge I lost while at Stanford seems to have found its way back.

It sounds pathetic — and it is — but it’s hard to see how, intellectually at least, school is much better. At home, I at least try to accomplish tasks, even if my effort is miniscule compared to the work I want to do. At school, I don’t even have time to try. I’m always running, frequently quite literally, from task to task. The tasks are interesting, sometimes even more so than the home ones, but they are largely passive. Instead of pouring time into the well, I just watch it swirl around.

When I started high school, I remember watching for that point where foreground and background reverse — the point at which school as a use of my time turned into time being what was left over after school. It didn’t take long. School is like that. It keeps you running until running is the only thing you know.

posted February 13, 2005 10:23 PM (Education) (0 comments) #


George Ryan on the Penalty of Death
Stanford: Tuesday, December 7
Stanford: Wednesday, December 8
Edward Tufte on Beautiful Evidence (and more Stanford: December 8)
Stanford: Thursday, December 9
Home Again
Home: Life and Love
Home: Gloom and Loneliness
New York City: Winter Vacation
Stanford: Back to School
Stanford: I Miss Zooko


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Aaron Swartz (me@aaronsw.com)