Getting Out

Sorry, Folks, but the software business can be soul-robbing. Living every day in an abstract and virtual world can get to be more than one can stand. Last Saturday, I spent the day with a task force made up of private citizens and government employees concerned with restoring the Gila trout to its native drainages in New Mexico and Arizona. As I sat and listened to their presentations and asked questions and participated in discussions, I was struck how such work concerns earth, air, water, fish, timber, lumbermen, ranchers, land use, history and biology and where we'll be in 50 and 100 years from now. People go into field and stream and survey and sample and try to understand things as they were, as they are, as they will be, and how lightly or heavily we must intrude, if at all. There is a physical connection with the world, and soon enough, from that, comes a spiritual one.

When I returned to work, the differences were shocking. Speaking only for myself, I begin to wonder what the hell I'm doing here.

-- DonOlson

Check out NetFuture. -- JamesStansell

[AnonymousDonor spoke about spiritual experiences in nature -vs- computer experiences. ...later retracted.]

In a previous job I had a similar experience. I was working for a small company at the time, and there was no food available at work so I took some sandwiches in each day. Rather than sit in a sterile and undecorated room to eat them, I walked the half a mile or so to a nearby nature reserve. At first it was just a pleasant place to eat my lunch, but then I began to notice a continuity between my visits. I could see the rise and fall of the tide in the estuary, watch the development of young ducklings, feel part of the play of the seasons on the trees and grasses.

All of this was in extreme contrast to the work I was doing, where things were timed in microseconds, and the hardware and software we were producing had to be thought of in a purely symbolic way to make any sense of it. I felt much richer for being involved in both worlds. Some days I really needed to get out and reassure myself that the real, natural world was still there, moving to its age-old cycles, and some computer crash or design error was simply unimportant.

In my current position, sadly I no longer go out for lunch, but there is a small stream, some trees and a field just outside the window by my desk, so I can at least see the seasons. The spiritual satisfaction I gain comes mostly from participating in the growth and discovery of my two young daughters (endless proud-father ramblings available on request...)

On the other hand, a friend of mine did quit computing altogether, taking a massive pay cut in the process, to become a park warden. -- FrankCarver

Occasionally, I dredge up the image of a smoking crater - the one an asteroid strike would leave where I'm standing. I use this image to keep things in perspective and be a little more selfless about whatever I am doing. YourMileageMayVary.

-- BobBockholt

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