Skip to main content

The Flying Fish: Learning to Balance Passions

I'm not a fish flopping around on the boat, struggling to pull through my gills water that isn't there. That's the image Jon Morrow would have you imagine for people like myself: writers who don't get to write. In his very poignant piece, Morrow talks about the nightmares and pain stuck in a life he didn’t really enjoy, until he let go and gave himself to wordcraft.


I think anyone with a passion they’ve stifled can sympathize, but I don’t agree with his conclusions of advice to writers-who-could.


Contrasted to Morrow’s do-or-die struggles and deep dive to arguable save his life, I’m reminded of the always articulate Matt Gemmell’s announcement at the start of 2014 that he would be shifting to writing full-time and no longer continuing his successful programming career or his seven year self-employed stint in the Apple universe.


Look at the different ways these two writers describe their life away from writing.


My subconscious was trying to warn me that I was suffocating, just like a fish.


and


all fell by the wayside when I became really interested in programming


There is an frantic nature to Morrow’s history before going at writing full-time that contrasts immensely to the gradual realizations Gemmell reveals. But beyond this, the difference I notice most is a projection that screams from Morrow and is completely absent from Gemmell.


Jon Morrow doesn’t write about his own realizations of purpose except as a backdrop addressing “Writers struggling to find their courage”. I find this characterization presumptuous and quite possibly reaching. Maybe he needs to share this feeling of imprisonment with others, so that a shared appreciation of escape can be had?


Instead, I find myself connecting far more with Gemmell’s position and path. That isn’t to say that I’m not going to code anymore, or that I’m turning my life into something new and becoming a writer first and foremost. Just the opposite, in fact. It is not Gemmell’s decision to leave programming and write full-time that I relate to, but the casual nature by which he seemed to come to it that I relate to.


Instead of the frantic fear I read from Morrow, in Gemmell I see someone who is not diving in head first, but is taking stock of his surroundings and just being honest about where he already is. I see someone who is able to bridge two different kinds of lives with a grace that is refreshing among advice that such change requires risks that many of us really can’t afford to take.


And that’s okay.


I am a firm believer that there is no inherent value in those kind of big risks being taken. They hold a position of esteem that, to me, just hides the problems that push people to this edge in the first place. (But this is for another discussion)


So I’m not here announcing some big life change, just a small one I’m observing. I’m writing more again, lately. I like that. I’ve been writing more every day, and I feel happier for it. I’m not letting it take over my life, and I’m happy for that, too. I don’t think I need to give up everything else I love to pursue writing more seriously. I’m a firm believer that dedicating your life to one pursuit, while often seen as noble and honorable, is a waste of potential.


The breadth and depth of a human life is perfectly sufficient for being passionate of many things.


The the flying fish that soars through both ocean and sky, there are many people who have deeply engaged lives filled with creativities beside their office jobs and they like their office job, too. There are people who write and publish and wonder when they’ll have time to paint, so they do that on the side. There are people who spend all day getting tired in labor intensive jobs and really genuinely enjoy them and come home and hack on open source.

I reject the falsehood that passion requires isolation.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Respect and Code Reviews

Code Reviews in a development team only function best, or possible at all, when everyone approaches them with respect. That’s something I’ve usually taken for granted because I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing developers who shine not just in their technical skills but in their interpersonal skills on a team. That isn’t always the case, so I’m going to put into words something that often exists just in assumptions.
You have to respect your code. This is first only because the nature and intent of code reviews are to safeguard the quality of your code, so even having code reviews demonstrates a baseline of respect for that code. But, maybe not everyone on the team has the same level of respect or entered a team with existing review traditions that they aren’t acquainted with.
There can be culture shock when you enter a team that’s really heavy on code reviews, but also if you enter a team or interact with a colleague who doesn’t share that level of respect for the process or…

CARDIAC: The Cardboard Computer

I am just so excited about this.


CARDIAC. The Cardboard Computer. How cool is that? This piece of history is amazing and better than that: it is extremely accessible. This fantastic design was built in 1969 by David Hagelbarger at Bell Labs to explain what computers were to those who would otherwise have no exposure to them. Miraculously, the CARDIAC (CARDboard Interactive Aid to Computation) was able to actually function as a slow and rudimentary computer. 
One of the most fascinating aspects of this gem is that at the time of its publication the scope it was able to demonstrate was actually useful in explaining what a computer was. Could you imagine trying to explain computers today with anything close to the CARDIAC?

It had 100 memory locations and only ten instructions. The memory held signed 3-digit numbers (-999 through 999) and instructions could be encoded such that the first digit was the instruction and the second two digits were the address of memory to operate on. The only re…

How To Care If BSD, MIT, or GPL Licenses Are Used

The two recent posts about some individuals' choice of GPL versus others' preference for BSD and MIT style licensing has caused a lot of debate and response. I've seen everything as an interesting combination of very important topics being taken far too seriously and far too personally. All involved need to take a few steps back.

For the uninitiated and as a clarifier for the initiated, we're dealing with (basically) three categories of licensing when someone releases software (and/or its code):
Closed Source. Easiest to explain, because you just get nothing.GPL. If you get the software, you get the source code, you get to change it, and anything you combine it with must be under the same terms.MIT and BSD. If you get the software, you might get the source code, you get to change it, and you have no obligations about anything else you combine it with.The situation gets stickier when we look at those combinations and the transitions between them.

Use GPL code with Closed S…