TL;DR I’d much rather be in the woods than sitting in front a of a screen all day. I’ve realised this now and will start doing more of it again. Feel free to join me.
I’m writing this post from my hotel room in Cardiff where I’m attending theweb.is conference.
I should be heading out to dinner but I feel compelled to put this virtual pen to paper before my thoughts slip back into the relative mess of my mind.
And it is mind that I want to briefly touch upon, inspired both by the varied and moving posts written for Geek Mental Help Week and most recently by a talk on stage at the aformentioned conference between Cole Henley and Andrew Clarke.
Over the past 18 months I have been having various health issues, mainly physical of nature but more recently affecting my mind too. The upshot is that stress has not only left me feeling pretty shitty but it also has been physically manifesting, causing me all sorts of other problems; weeks off work bed-ridden problems.
The irony is that the majority of that stress has been self induced: working far too hard and a lack of exercise being major factors which is weirdly really positive, because I can easily (hopefully) fix those and I am working towards doing this.
However, another factor that I’m struggling with is a cognitive dissonance that I have been experiencing due to the fact that as much as I do like working with my clients and however much intellectual stimulation I get from running my business, I’d much rather be sitting in the woods making furniture.
Now that might sound a bit strange but bear with me.
A few years back my family and I had a bit of a weird – it *definitely* was weird at times – and also wonderful journey sampling various lifestyle options travelling around the country from rented house to rented house. During the way I became a qualified forester and picked up a lot of woodworking skills as well as a smattering of farming and agricultural knowledge too.
After a while we got fed up with moving and decided that we had to settle down; we wanted to own our own place again and to (literally) put down roots, planting our own garden and stop dragging our poor kids from school to school. Faced with the reality that I can’t make any money doing the things that I really want to be doing (forestry particularly is also a young person’s game) I decided to go all-in again on my business and we now are where we are today.
Getting back to that conversation between Cole & Andrew. Cole was describing a recent (awesome) birthday present from his wife where he got sent to a monastery for 3 days and ended up amongst other things spending a lot of time whittling spoons under a tree.
Now I’m not a spiritual person but the only time I have ever felt any sort of ‘otherness’ is when I’m at one with nature whether that’s canoeing on Lochs in Scotland or more locally in a woodland taking its fruits and making things with them, spoons, chairs, shonky benches, whatever. The simple fact of being in nature, of communing if you will, felt good for the soul (if an atheist like me is allowed a soul).
So, cutting to the chase (I’m hungry and I’m missing the party), I need to do more of that again. Particularly the making and woody things. I know it’ll be good for me and will likely break me out of this funk.
I’d also like to extend an offer to any of my geek friends: Join me. Whether that’s in person – seriously let’s geek out in the woods, I’ll organise it – or just in spirit, do something that makes your heart sing. You may not be able to do it for a living but maybe it’ll help you too?
P.s. I feel very awkward pressing submit on this especially when my laughably named problems pale into insignificance when compared to some of my braver peers who have really bared their souls this week. I know that I am a very lucky man. I’m the right gender and I have the right skin tone. I live in the part of society which industrialised first so we got to nick most of the world’s resources which in turn made us all so much more relatively wealthy when compared to others. I have a loving (and suffering) wife, three great kids, I earn a good salary in an industry that is very sharing (and evidently caring) and one in which I can pick up sticks and do anywhere in the world.