My father recently shared a couple of stories with me. One of them goes like this:
There lived a lone monk, Huike, in a temple high in the mountains. He had lived there ever since he was little. One day a young homeless boy comes and asks for a place to stay. "My name is Sengcan," the boy said. The kind monk, feeling lonely himself, took him in as his apprentice. Sengcan was very grateful for his new home. After witnessing the calm and gentle nature of the monk, he became inspired to become one too. He laboured everyday preparing meals, doing dishes, sweeping floors...until one day, after weeks of the same routine, the boy became restless and complained about his lack of progress as a monk. The monk thought for a moment, then replied, "Go to the kitchen and grab a bowl and some walnuts." The boy did not understand the reason but did as he was told. "Now fill the bowl as much as possible." The boy grabbed a handful and began filling the bowl. The height of the stacked walnuts grew, until walnuts began tumbling off and on to the floor. When the boy stopped, Huike asked "Can you fill the bowl anymore?" Sengcan knew there was something hidden behind the question, but did not understand what it was. "No," he replied. Huike smiled slightly. "Now pour some rice into the bowl." The boy was irritated that he did not think of it. He started scooping up rice into the bowl. As the rice descended, it began to fill in the space between the walnuts. He even bumped the bowl several times to try to compact the rice as best as he could. But even then the rice started overflowing the edge of the bowl. Once again Huike asked the boy if he could continue filling the bowl. This time Sengcan replied: "Yes, with water!" They walked outside to the well and the boy started to fill the bowl. However, just like the previous attempts, the water too began to overflow. "I think this is the best I can do," the boy finally said. "There's one more thing actually. Isn't it possible to add some salt and sugar?" "That's right! They dissolve in water!" Huike nodded. "Alright. now get another bowl and do the same thing, except this time in reverse. See if you can fill the bowl with the same amount of water, rice, and walnuts." This confused the boy again. What does all of this have anything to do with becoming an apprentice? He thought that he was being taught patience, so he went to grab another bowl. Then he filled the bowl completely with water. He was just about to start scooping in rice when he realized that it would not be possible without spilling water. And even if he did fill the entire bowl with rice, he wouldn't be able to put in many walnuts without them falling out. The monk asked the boy, "What did you learn from this?" Thinking out loud, Sengcan replied, "Well, just like I had to fill the bowl with walnuts first, there is also a process to follow in life. Only then will one be able to live the best life possible. By showing me this experiment, you are telling me that I must slowly progress one stage at a time to become a monk." The monk nodded and added, "Well said! One must first gain the knowledge, wisdom, and skills before advancing in life. It is the experience that one needs to live up to their full potential." "Thank you for explaining all of this. I will be glad to continue my training."
In short, one must understand and remember the big picture before zooming into the details. Here are some more examples:
- Get it working first. Then worry about the UI.
- Know what you are working towards. Then have fun.
- Fix it first. Erase after.*
Credit for last example goes to Mr. Shim.