#2015-04-08: Keep Good Company

Hello Questies!

I've not been at MapQuest long but I've valued every moment. The time has now come for me to say goodbye and as I sit here this Spring morning, I find myself reflecting on what a profound personal experience it's been.

MapQuest has been a gift to me. Although I made strides towards my goal of becoming a better programmer, my biggest gain was non-technical. It's clear to me how fully ignorant I was before as to what people meant when they used the word "culture." I had no idea what that word could really mean. Having now actually experienced it in pure form, I don't think I could express that meaning to someone who hasn't.

Before MapQuest, I never even came close to scratching the surface on the value of trust, relationships, and the immensity of depth individuals gathered here bring. The rare and sincere individual I'm privileged to call my friend is not a gem unusual and impossible to find here. MapQuest is made up of people like that. Folks sincere in their work, terribly bright, and dedicated to each of their crafts and, and this is a big "and," to each other. The beautiful collection of people under the MapQuest roof should not be taken lightly. They're representative of who I want to be. It's no exaggeration to say that as I leave here I am having the sense of the losing one's culture and it's quite a touching thought to stumble upon on your last day that you may never fit in as well as you have here anywhere else again.

The word "corpus" means "body of writing." It's a silly thing to say but I'm not far from thinking of ideas and knowledge as a true living thing. Losing the collective knowledge of the MapQuest community, this strange growing and changing organism, feels like losing a body part or a piece of my mind that cannot ever be fully made whole. How odd is it to be bothered by code repositories being committed to now outside my view? But there are thoughts in this small group of individuals that cannot be found anywhere else. Maybe that's part of what culture is.

Fundamentally, however, culture is good company. I had a surprising email from Tim Armstrong one morning. Within, he quoted the entirety of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. How many organizations, let alone those the size of Aol, have a CEO that emails the entire company poetry? Not many, I think. Although each of us is working to the best of our abilities, we're just an incredibly small part of a larger group, person sized after all. I think of each contribution each of us makes as a drop in an ocean that may ripple out, and as I think on the ripples that I've been a part of, I will quote a popular translation of a haiku by Bashō, which I chose for everything that it cannot say:

an ancient pond / a frog jumps in / the splash of water

I don't know quite where or who I want to be but with the most perfect and sincere gratitude I can give, thank you. Thank you. I'm much further on my own quest and I'm looking forward to the road ahead. I just can't wait.

Stephen