As I worked my way through a ten year career as a software engineer, each trip to the office was accompanied more and more by a sense of regret for what I’d set aside to step into those high-powered cubicles.
The seeds of this regret were sown by my ignorance of life’s transience. I had taken the blessings in my life for granted and unwittingly traded them in. For the innocence I surrendered in order to “get ahead”, I was compensated only with mechanics and logistics.
It’s not just the dryness of programming tasks. It’s the detachment of busy-ness. Doing fifty, sixty hour weeks, again and again, we begin to acknowledge our joys only when they get in the way. We forget that one day they will be gone. We do things that encourage them to leave even faster.
I only saw my son when he needed feeding.
We scour them with our rushed decisions, life scours them and sours them for us. And when it does, we tell them out of hyperwhelm “not right now” and like troopers they soldier onwards and we want to say “wait, I was wrong, come back,” but we are too proud, unwilling to recognise how lost we truly are, and so we daren’t say it loud enough or soon enough to make a difference.
I could see the pattern forming before my itchy, tired eyes: necessarily they move on. Reluctantly, but with a growing confidence, and when they look back they see a path, straight as fate, paved with yellow bricks, and they think “I’m happy with who I am, I’m glad it happened like that, it all turned out for the best”; but we won’t help thinking “I wish I could’ve made that better for us all” once it’s too late.
Fuck that shit, I believe was my general thinking process, as I resigned my contracts and ceased trawling for new ones. I won’t abandon my joys, or my loved ones. Watch me abandon the departure every morning, the late arrival home instead. Abandon the grind that processes my life into monetized units.
It’s not been a materially successful decision. I wasn’t aiming for that. What I was aiming for, was a life lived in recognition of the moments, one by one as they occur. Fitting material needs around recognition of heartache. In holding a space for loving life so much, while knowing that one day I will be gone.
The doctors call it burn out, there’s talk of “recovery”. So that I can get back that 75k per year I’m missing out on.
Whatever. If I only live another thirty seconds, I will die knowing that I was doing what mattered most to me. And that knowledge is not, any longer, for sale.