I’ve met happy people. They range in household size, income, upbringing, nationality, etc. However, time and time again, they share this one common attribute: contentment. I’m not saying they don’t have problems in their lives; of course they do. However, somehow they stay afloat. People like my neighbor Dale, a photo journalist/author, and John, a retired Marine at my job. If you spoke with them for five minutes you’d understand. On the other hand, I’ve met some sad/angry people. These types feel real comfortable sniping others, taking pot-shots, you know. Again, regardless of their standing in life (please believe me), they feel better pulling others down. Like crabs in a barrel*. Here, obviously, the common attribute is discontentment.
Well, to the point – in the past, I’ve buried myself in my work, purposefully. Through various experiences, I learned this is stupid. Not the working long hours, no not that. The relentlessness of it all. In early 2006, I worked an average of 80 hours a week, for easily 8 months straight. Trust me, it can be done. However, I do wonder about the quality of the code. Could I have done the same amount, maybe even better if I explicitly stepped away from the machine for a week or two? Yeah, I learned a bunch, without having to worry about whether my company was using the technology or not. I had gained in many ways, but was I happy? Not at all. In fact I was starting to act like one of those crabs.
By the end of 2006, I simply crashed. At home, I’d sit in front of my machine, with side work to do, and not actually do anything. I let contracts go, and simply stopped working on my other projects. I was discontent. It was clear that I had to make a choice, a pretty obvious one at that. Now, in my personal life, in all relationships I seek reciprocity. Kinda like an “F me? OK, F you too.” F as in forget, of course. In my work life, I seek balance, finally. My grandmother used to tell me, “You are always rushing, but you’ll only rush to your grave?” Granted, it’s a morbid thing to tell a teen, but it makes sense (now). Some of you may be thinking, this common sense. But as Brian Regan would say, “Nobody look at me; I’m a moron!” Carpe Diem, seriously.
*That crabs in a barrel quote is old, not sure of its origin, and wrong. In reality, if you were a crab being pulled from the barrel, you being pulled to be cooked. Of course you want your brethren to hold on to you! Isn’t holding onto your fellow crab, hoping she doesn’t get cooked a good thing?! Anyway.