I'm a programmer. I mean, I think of myself as one, even though I've been promoted up a bit to a Director Of Something Or Other And Stuff. When people ask me what I do, I say I'm a programmer ('computer programmer' if it's the sort of person who might assume 'television programmer', though anyone looking at me and thinking 'television programmer' probably hates television).
A few years back Po Bronson apparently wrote a book called "What Should I Do With My Life?" that keeps popping up in my brain. I didn't actually read Po Bronson's book called "What Should I Do With My Life?", I merely noted that someone paid Po Bronson, some book printing people, and some marketing people to make and sell this book called "What Should I Do With My Life?" Follow that with all these bloggers talking about Po Bronson's book (can you tell I like that name? Po.) and well, I can pretty much guess it was a pretty good book about people wondering what they were going to do with their lives and Po offering some solutions on what they could do, and possibly what he decided to do (hint: get into self-help books, people seem to think "self-help" still counts as "self" if you pay someone to help you via a book for $14.95 instead of an actual session with someone who my be able to "help" you realize you're cheap and can't take advice from strangers in person.)
So the point I was trying to make, or at least what I was trying to talk about is that I don't think I can be a programmer (or Director Of Something Or Other And Stuff) for the rest of my life. I don't think I have it in me. I keep thinking about Po Bronson's book title and then about my own life and my lineage (Barbers, Field Laborers) and I think, "This isn't me. Who wants to sit in front of a computer while the world goes on outside? Not me. Not for very long."
(I may have added the "Not for very long." to possibly preserve the mystery of my timetable from whichever coworkers think googling other coworkers is an insanely great idea. Hello, Matt P.!)
I do make things for a living. Web sites that show up in magazines! But I don't think it's the type of thing I want to tell my kids or grandkids I made. "Yes, see, I made this web site...uh, a web site was..uh..I was a television programmer..." I think it's fine for now, but it's just not me. I was not born to program. I am a college dropout who fell into programming because people were paying programmers insane amounts of money to do problem solving which is something I've always enjoyed doing. I am a good problem solver, but I don't get all rubbery over traversing linked lists in a minimum amount of steps. In fact, I hate Star Trek. Programming is a way to solve problems and not get sunburns or cataracts like my grandparents so it's probably why I keep doing it. Now I am a manager and it's actually pretty fulfilling work, but saying "BEING A MANAGER IS FULFILLING WORK!" is kind of like saying, "BEING A EUNUCH IS FULFILLING WORK!" For now I enjoy the feeling of having a team and getting things done and motivating people and serving people but at the end of the day you can't really hold that in your hand and admire it. (Not that I spend late nights holding things in my hand and admiring them.)
I've always been somewhat clever with physical things. Making things. I'm flirting with buying a sewing machine. In fact, I will be buying one soon if I can get some money together. I'm going to try it out though. I'm looking at my bag, the one I carry around is fine, but it just doesn't want to do what I want it to do and it seems like I'm carrying a bag that a person who carries books around would carry. And we've already established I don't buy books, I remember book titles. No, I carry guitar tuners, a laptop that is too big for my bag, a metronome, an iPod (not really, I'm lying, I never carry my iPod around with me because as I pointed out earlier I am always at a computer), a voice recorder, pens, guitar straps, CD-Rs, you probably get the idea. I carry junk, but it seems like all the bags I see that carry junk have flowers on them. Not even cool flowers with lasers, but pretty flowers with no lasers.
Do I want to make bags for a living? Probably not. But the idea of making something like a bag I'd like is incredibly attractive. The idea of making ANYTHING I can carry and show someone and show off is far more interesting to me than a website or bit of code.
I made several resolutions this year. One resolution was to start writing and exploring my thoughts more. What do I want to do with my life? I don't know. But this year I'd really like to find out.
Note to potential book publishers who want me to buy their books: don't name them things like "What Do I Want To Do With My Life?" because I will assume it's a book about what people can do with their lives and I will just wait for people to talk about it at parties and I'll nod my head, pretending to have read it and every time it's my turn to talk about my favorite part in the book I'll take a bite of a cracker and let them skip my turn. A better title is "What Color Is Your Parachute?" which is on a similar subject but holy crap they have "parachute" right in the title. How exciting is that? Why is there a parachute? Did someone jump out of a plane? Of course they did! They are going to die! Or wait, is this a conversation between two parachutists getting ready to jump? Is one hitting on the other? If I had to buy my own parachute I'd want a clear one because of birds.