The tight rope walker
He looks to his left..
certain death.He tilts to the right, also, certain death. It would appear that the only path forward, was the only way to go. No ability to step backward, only to move forward step by step. Step too far one way and risk having to over correct. Over correct too far and the entire thing comes to a stand still at best; at worst, the journey is over.
I got to talk to my wife the other night before bed. It's intended as it sounds; rare lately. 2018 has been very busy for us. Lots of travel, lots of juggling schedules of kids, jobs, extra work on both our parts, and so as any parents of two young children know the conversation time without the noise of life is often rare. It was in this moment that I used a phrase I haven't fully explained previously.
It was that of where my work is heading and the creeping abyss that I see myself needing to avoid. She asked what I meant by having to approach the abyss (in reference to our work and where it's going). I'm not really one to bring conversations that are really personal in matter up in a public form but if none speak that which is abnormal then all that remains is what others claim as normalcy.
Everyone is miserable at the top
So how can we get to the top without becoming miserable in the process or losing our soul? I have yet to meet anyone or hear of anyone (but one person) who has done the whole parable of the fisher thing and not ended up the same as they left off. The parable is a man is fishing by a lake and someone says "wow you're really good at this, you should form a company and sell these fish to others". And so he either relates the following or lives it but basically it goes that if you stop doing what you love just because you love it and turn it into a financial enterprise, you had better make sure you never lose sight of that love or you'll risk it just becoming another job. A job the fisherman wants to ultimately escape and go back to sitting by the lake and fishing alone.
Without having to detail who these people are (nor should I) I can sadly tell you that most people I've met that run open source projects that have taken off are often broken people. Maybe I just know the wrong ones, but so many fall to the social ills that plague us all yet are even easier to come by when money and "power" come into play. Drugs, sex, broken homes, distance from family and friends, unfulfillment in the life's work they have selected. If these weren't common problems in our space you wouldn't see so many conference talks about topics of Burn out, imposter syndrome and generally being a person outside of tech.
This, is the abyss. Fame. Vanity. The whole lot of the typical "7 deadly sins" as it were. This is the abyss that from day one I've recognized and made sure never to cross over. It doesn't mean I don't have fun at events, it doesn't mean I don't have friends in the communities I partake. But it does mean that I'm always in control of myself and any situation I'm a part of. I can't let go, and I won't; even if it seems I'm there in my mind I've carved out a safe place to hide.
Never get so deep into your work that you forget why you were doing the work in the first place. Never proceed through life without purpose, vision, intention, desire, love, hope or dreams. Find your why, embrace it and never let go. It seems silly, but finding your Why, having guiding principles and living them are what separate a fulfilling life from an empty one. It's all mindset, and prioritizing things to ensure you achieve what you've set out to do.
My parents told me only more recently, that part of their desire to do the best in life they could was to provide a better existance for me and my sisters. It resonated immediately... as my early presentations when I'd launch into what I was doing always started with Why I was doing it (followed by silly pictures of my kids). My Why's are simple, solid, and core to my being
Because my (and your) children deserve a better world then the already pretty awesome one I was given
Because we can always do better
Because education raises all ships and allows us to bring greater understanding and joy to this world as a result
Because money isn't everything
Because with great power, comes great responsibility.
Because this is my calling.