At my first job out of school, me and all the other consultants in my practice were issued our standard Lenovo’s. Model T450 if I remember correctly. Your laptop was a good signifier of your status and/or specialization at the company. The professional elites – Director level types – were given sleeker, lighter Lenovo models – “Yoga”. Besides convenience, the key distinctions were that it was a touch screen, and that the screen could bend all the way passed the keyboard to be flush with the base and become a tablet.
That one useless characteristic is still the root of one of one of the most prominent jokes today I make with one of my co-workers. Most people I worked with on a day to day basis never had a Yoga. And as a Yoga being a sign of having “made it” on that corporate ladder, with that came less concern with hands-on-keys work. So we’d often joke about getting a Yoga as a representation of our accomplishments and that we no longer had to do the grunt work we were actively grinding through. The joke would be that whenever – 1. we would be in throws of something particularly frustrating or labor intensive or 2. felt like we weren’t getting the recognition or compensation we deserved – we would threaten to “Yoga” our everyman laptop. Look up, smile, and bend the screen all the way back. Effectively murdering our computer and ending struggle. We would create our Yoga.
I’m laughing historically as I write this. We all have those jokes with ourselves and our friends. When the currents are flowing against you, particularly with work, there’s that cluster of jokes you fall back to with the people you enjoy most. Years after moving on from that job, I’m still thinking I should Yoga my laptop.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
After a weekend of missing the mark on my intended progress, and realizing my skill gap on several of my new but growing personal projects, I was ready to relocate my PC tower on the wrong side of balcony. Set back after set back, mistake after mistake – I was becoming irate and losing my capacity to focus. I was – and still am – so annoyed at how much longer everything was taking me compared to the tutorials I had watched and planning I had done. And right as I sat down to write this, I finally accepted that something I had worked on for days would be better off being restarted than trying to fix what I had unknowingly broken while learning on the fly.
It’s very discouraging. I am super annoyed. I’m still thinking about who would win – my foot or the rigid tech inside my innocent PC. But that’s the game. Progression is slow and the tasks are boring. It’s easy to forget that, and I do all the time. I think a lot of us do. Building a foundation for your fitness goals, especially after years of inactivity, is a slow, boring progression. Learning new creative skills in hopes of one day finishing a complex, heavily fantasized piece is a fumbling process of crooked, simple outputs to build up the ability to make what your mind sees. Starting to write and committing to doing that – or anything else – each day, can quickly and regularly feel like a slow, boring, burdensome task. But that’s the game. And like a real, literal video game, it takes deliberate progression to become more competent and to level up. Do you know the basics? Great, no understand the possibility in the basics, and while you do that let’s introduce more complex but intermediate concepts. Alright, are you starting to see and understand how these different ideas work together?
Let’s use that in something more complex and take on some heavy lifting. It’s not insightful, it’s just the game. And in the game of life or a video game, it’s better to have your hands on the controls trying to make something happen. Even when you have no idea what you’re doing, even when your realize that the best course of action after working on something is to start over, you’re already in a far better position simply because you’re playing. It’s a lot easier and a tricky feeling to sit on the sidelines and fantasize about what could be, versus grinding through the boring, difficult tasks that are the foundation of most of the people we admire. So yeah, I’ll be here, playing the game..but I’ll probably still end up having to replace a few laptops.
See you tomorrow.
Inspiration: The Game of Life
Quote: Unattributed Historical Proverb