There’s been years without building anything worthwhile, years without contribution, empty days and weeks without progress, with no great thing made, no lovely object at the end to show for it. There have been whole months without everything that makes something worthwhile, replaced instead by countless evenings and early mornings and skipped-lunches building garbage and half-baked websites designed to make some distant person very far away just a single fraction of a decimal point richer. I often feel that I’ve squandered my time here.
What the hell am I doing? Why this website, why this project, why this room? Why this effort here, when there’s so little time left?
A few days ago I was plodding up the treacherous hills around my neighborhood and I had a nasty thought: let’s say I write 60 blog posts a year, that’s maybe 1800 posts left in me if I’m lucky. Are those 1800 well spent? Am I making something worthwhile with all that focus and time and energy? At the end of those mere 1800, will I look back and smile? Will I want to brag about it all?
I know. I’m being horrendously morbid and I’ve probably just listened to The Horrors too much this week. But still.
There’s a feeling that’s real hard to describe — the words fail to render here — but there’s this great feeling of being in the right room at the right time. The only room at the only time. This feeling where fate was always going to lead you to this very spot, the one you stand in right now, and that’s where you ought to be.
College felt like that, where a tiny bomb shelter of a building in Reading stuffed to the brim with a bunch of font nerds was the most important place in the universe to me. And if you listened carefully you could hear the tiny creak of progress being made; beautiful work being churned like butter. Every day felt like I was struggling like hell to keep up, sure, but it also felt like the struggle was damn well worth it. If only I could learn a few tricks, if only I could learn how two colors can snap together like this, then I might just command graphics like a grand wizard.
My brother’s wedding felt like that, too; a Romanian wedding is a song, and I found myself in a trance, overwhelmed with how beautiful and joyous it was. It was the perfect room, the perfect time. Great work was being done in the singing and I was just there for the ride.
How many rooms do I walk into now and feel that familiar clunk of progress? How often do I sit at my keyboard and use each letter to the best of my ability? How often am I working on the right thing, a thing I can be proud of, a thing I want to brag about endlessly?
That’s what’s so hard about being on the internet, as everywhere else looks so very important: you can hear the rattling of great work being done without you. There are studios and bedrooms and hallways and meeting rooms in Delhi and Hong Kong and Denver where it is happening, the Great Work is taking place, and you’re not a part of it, you’re not contributing to the progress, and you’re not where you really need to be.