As I write this I’m not sure if I’m going to post it but I need to collect my thoughts, analyse what lies beneath my severe depression and inability to lift out of this state for any length of time.
There was a girl and she loved to program, to see the moving parts in her mind and then actually craft them in this magical box in front of her so that they would turn and flow like some marvellous kinetic sculpture.
She had more than an interest: it was her passion, bordering on obsession. Whole weekends would be spent shaping the parts, assembling them, testing their fit and making adjustments until everything ran as she envisaged.
It wasn’t her only interest. She enjoyed writing and drawing too, as well as having a voracious appetite for reading and learning, following the threads of her curiosity through encyclopaedias, dictionaries and any other reference books she could lay her hands on.
She realised that she could make a career of what she always referred to as her hobby and so began her working life in the software industry. A lot of it was good, some of it was wonderful, but as the years went on and she became more experienced and adept in the technical skills, so she felt more constrained by the work she was being asked to perform.
Her happiest times were when she had the freedom to express herself through her work, to build something that was hers and that she knew every part of. The work that she remains most proud of goes right back to near the beginning of her career. It’s something that has stood the test of time, remained in use for the best part of two decades.
What she does today is of high quality, but there is little scope to be creative. The design space is small and tightly-constrained. It isn’t stimulating. She needs to be able to exercise her imagination, let her mind drift and experiment with new forms and combinations.
Maybe her time developing software has run its natural course? Maybe the industry has moved on and there is no longer a place for experimentation and blue-sky projects? Maybe the day of those who program for the sheer joy of it are numbered and they are doomed to be replaced by those for whom it’s merely a job?
Whatever the reasons, she feels the time is ripe to consider a new direction. To indulge her passions once again. She feels a strong need to do the things that matter to her, that make her life feel worthwhile.
And then this weekend she read Art Matters by Neil Gaiman and was particularly struck by these words:
If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.
And that’s so much harder than it sounds and, sometimes in the end, so much easier than you might imagine.
She doesn’t know how to get where she wants to be without throwing away everything that she has right now. She stands on the edge of a cliff, reeling from vertigo, unwilling to step back away from the edge but terrified to take that step out into the unknown.