Wired In

Is it possible to hit deadlines while remaining friendly?

If you’re like me, you always choose shipping over chatting. The result is hit deadlines and finished products; the price, neglected relationships and unfinished interactions.

I often find myself asking, am I a mean person? Is it unreasonable that I ask not to be interrupted so that I can be more productive? Am I mean for being abrupt and pithy with my statements, when my intention is understandable and perhaps even noble? To accomplish more work and be more productive: is this not the embodiment of the modern human being?

Even after long sessions of rationalizing my questionable social behavior, I still feel guilty. Why aren’t you nicer sometimes? Couldn’t you get work done and be nice at the same time?

I spent a good two years working from my bedroom in my parents house on various projects and apps a few years ago. One project in particular took a full year to complete, and I only left my room to eat, if that. I lost 30 pounds to drinking coffee and eating 1 meal a day; I just didn’t (mentally) have the time. I don’t need to explain to you the grip and wrath a bug has on you: nothing in the world matters but solving that bug, and when you battle these creatures everyday, you emerge with a dreary countenance and hopeless disposition. Nothing matters but solving the problem at hand: it’s defeating you every second you’re not thinking about it.

Sometimes, during moments of brief self consciousness, I think back to times in my life when I was spontaneous and outgoing. I remember being places, so I must have been outgoing, right? That time is so long past that I can’t recall if I was born this way or just evolved to be this way by necessity.

I was once asked why I say so little, almost as if my silence were an elephant, which is odd since I choose silence to remain camouflaged and unnoticed. I say, oh you know, long day when in truth I want to say, let me work, and my work will speak for me. If I do good work, then we have had a good conversation, and you have gotten to know me a little better. My words can only point; they are not sufficient nor important enough to describe what I am or what I am thinking about.

I speak the fatiguing language of work, and with those that don’t speak that same language, I have a hard time communicating. Not that I cannot spontaneously converse with you, but rather, what is there to be said? Life is ephemeral, and I wish to spend it with my hands occupied. When you ask the question, would you rather speak to hundreds of thousands through a theoretically successful app, or speak to one person of the weather and current events, the answer is dispassionately obvious.

If you don’t create, how will anyone know you exist?

This thought whispers through my body like a cold breeze. I am not a man, nor human — I am a binary slave; a slave to that phrase. It dictates my every action and interaction; it is the force behind my every moment of optimism and simultaneous despair.

During times of great pressure and tight deadlines, several weeks will have passed where little will have been said by me and little joy will you have seen visible on my face, while you and I wonder, what darkness does this man harbor that he cannot summon the joy of a couple words every so often?

To my parents, to my friends, I am a vague representation of a human being. To my wife, I am my best self — someone no one else sees but her. My wife and I once joked how sorry my parents must feel for her, that she (my wife) got stuck with such a stern and emotionless man. I am in fact the opposite, but during the times I lived with my parents, all I did was work, and this is all they ever saw of me. My rare ups and frequent downs. The glimpses of despair when I was being overcome by a bug or technical problem.

I search both extrema for the balance of this delicate act. There are times when I tell myself, it is ok to live for a bit. Take some time off from your incessant swirling, of thoughts and deliberations, of life analysis and social paralysis.

And so I do. And I do it well.

I live. I go out. I call my mom. I watch TV. I experiment. I learn to cook. I read. I socialize.

This is fun, I think to myself; I ought to be this jolly more often.

Until, during the midst of a conversation, an idea comes.

An idea too good to pass up.

You look at me. My face is glowing. I am ecstatic. You haven’t seen me this happy in a while.

I run to my computer. I open Photoshop. Click. Click. Clack. Click. I create a new Xcode project. Click click clack clack clack.

I turn around, and you look at me again. My eyes are red. I look like death. The smile is gone. It’s time.

Time to work.

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