Single threading

Birthday candles

Hi, tomorrow is your sister’s birthday. You forgot mom’s.


My mother’s birthday was two days ago and I completely forgot. My sister’s birthday is tomorrow. Chances are, I might have forgotten her birthday too if my father didn’t text me a few hours ago.

How did this happen? With our fancy calendar apps and all their incessant push notifications, how could I possibly forget the birthdays of the most important people in my life? 1

Here’s my lame excuse: I’ve been so busy preparing for finals, writing papers, and working on my projects that I literally wasn’t thinking about anything else. The notebook that I carry around in my back pocket hasn’t had a new entry scribbled in it in over a week. I’ve been living from day to day, from class to class, from assignment to assignment. And I’ve basically lost track of the concept of time.

I didn’t even know the date.

This is me running on single threaded processing — moving from one task to another and being so absorbed in it that I forget everything else important to me. It’s just too easy to lose track of things when you’re working on hard problems or when you’re working through a lot of stress. Naturally, you start to lose mental cycles.

But that’s just so dangerous, even if it only happens rarely: being so insular and so single-threaded makes you lose perspective on the world. The people I love are so much more important to me than schoolwork, my health is so much more important to me than my pride, and solving big, meaningful problems is so much more important to me than solving the problem of picking where to go for lunch.

I hope I’m never so single-threaded, so single-minded, and so insular in my thoughts that I forget about the bigger picture and everything else that’s important to me. I need to force myself out of these self-imposed bubbles and take in all the little details around me.

Because frankly, I’m ashamed.

  1. Here’s the real kicker: I actually don’t have their birthdays in my calendar because I thought that it was impossible for me to ever forget them. It also just feels too impersonal and inappropriate for people so close to me.