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Striving Towards Happiness

Reflections on Life · August 03, 2020

Life moves at a constant steady clip. It's really, truly and honestly, easier to get swept away by the things going on around us. Especially when we're not happy. We can lose focus on what's important to us, or even those things that matter to use can become distant.

This is unfortunately something I'm all too familiar with. I'm in a career field without formal education to justify my position (I have a bachelors in History). I've worked to put myself through college, just to abandon the ship before my degree was done because I had a kid on the way, and suddenly my dream of finishing college didn't really cut it anymore. And I've just been steadily clipping away since then.

Each company I've worked for has taught me something new, I've learned unique skills. Found a career path that I excel at, and truly enjoy. But that stuff doesn't really matter. I'm stubborn enough to have stuck with something, I got lucky enough that I like it too. I could be doing glass installation right now.

Life is just funny that way.

When things are going great I can sit back and wax poetic about these things. I feel like I've come a great distance. I look back and I'm proud that I refuse to stop learning. I look at the things I've created, the skills that I have, and I smile knowing that my career means something to me. But all of that could go away tomorrow, would I still be happy?

I don't think those accomplishments, as much as I brag about them, mean that much. Their ability to empower and make me happy are fleeting pieces in a larger river of time that is my life. My Fennel scripts isn't what's keeping me afloat, it's just an interesting happenstance in a larger play. But that's what I talk about. All the time

When I'm at work, I write terraform and ansible scripts. I build web apps, and cli tools. When I've got downtime outside of work I'm doing packaging for Alpine, or working on one of my FOSS projects. When my coworkers ask me about the highlights of my week, sometimes I find myself slipping into technical jargon; "The SBCL patches got accepted upstream, it builds natively on musl now!", "My APKBUILD conversion tool is actually being used by others!". These are neat, but can I describe this professional pride as happiness?

When I wake up, I'm greeted bright and early at 6am by a "good morning dad", whispered softly in my ear. Followed very closely by breakfast requests, and "can you play X" or "can we watch Y". When I try and get out the door for work in the morning, I'm waylay-ed a consistent 5 minutes for an extra round of hugs, or three. And when I return it's "Dad's home!".

These quiet moments I find myself so often spending in the living room at night, with nobody but Samantha. Where the gentle hum of fans is accented by the sound of keys pressed as I try and etch out these thoughts. Or more often than not talking late into the night on anything, nothing, everything. Just like we always have.

When we can venture forth, as a family, and experience new things together. Packing up a home into a small container, driving across the entire East coast, stopping in new strange places. Trundling over hills and vales exploring nature, plucking wild blueberries from amongst fiddlehead ferns and sarsaparilla. Learning, growing, loving as a family.

These moments make me happy.

Before coming to Maine I would wake up miserable, dreading work. Not getting to work on what I loved. Coming home to desperately try and develop software for a small business venture I saw as a way out. That I used to fill a creative hunger that was utterly unsatisfied. I worry that I wasted time focusing on my career, building skills as quickly as I could. But I smile when I look at where it has led us. My desire to continue to care for, to create a happy life for, the people I love in turn focuses me on my career. If I can return to them some material comfort, the ability to travel, a good school for our son; then it is worth a life time of work.

Life is not always so calm, I'm certain the proverbial rough seas are out there, but for now I can stop and think about life. I've never once stopped trying to do more, be more, so that I can be a good father. So that I can be a good spouse. So that I can be more than I told myself I would be, and twice as much as everyone said I couldn't be.

logic puts it excellently in his new song Aquarius III:

Reflecting on memories from my childhood Bringing a baby in this world, I hope my child good All I ever gave a fuck about was my career But all that shit out the window now that my son is here Fuck sales and streams, none of that shit entails dreams Fuck rap, fuck press, fuck feeling like I'm less If it ain't 'bout my happiness, than I could give a fuck less

Life is meant to be lived. If you're only chasing a corporate dream, you'll be eaten alive. There's no meaning in money, beyond what it can provide materially. But if your labor is love? Well for that, I could move mountains. If my labor is happiness, and it enables even some small modicum of comfort, repays some small portion of happiness to the people who make me smile. Well, then it's all worth it.