Work has slowed down quite a bit recently and that has given me the time to work on my own projects. I work as a Software Tester for a company that designs and build control systems and there is usually enough customer demand that all my efforts are focused on testing their software. Without a lot of customer work right now I have been improving my test strategies and paperwork. I am creating test suites, and test plans. Learning new strategies and formalizing a lot of informal process that never really had time to take hold. In effect, I have been working to improve my workplace and work quality.
These actions in a lull of activity made me realize that the only path to improvement is constant “upgrading.” Even when there doesn’t seem to be much to do, there is something that can be made better. Now this does not mean that you have to take every single opportunity to improve. It only means that there is improvement to be made and it’s your choice to take it. Just like every choice, it’s yours.
In the future, I think that I will be looking for more opportunity to improve when I have “nothing to do.” This doesn’t mean that if I have nothing pressing that I will always choose to improve my life. I still want to play games, and read books. In the words of a certifiably insane man “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” So next time when you find yourself saying “I have nothing to do tonight” look for something in your life that needs working on and give it a go.
PS: After searching it up, I realize that the quote from the Shining, is not originally from the movie. It’s a proverb from a man named James Howel.
I recently watched a movie called “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” with Steve Carell and Keira Knightly and I enjoyed it a lot. For those who haven’t seen it, this post will contain spoilers. Also, if you haven’t seen it, find it and watch it (it’s currently on Canadian Netflix).
Definite SPOILERS Below!!!
The first scene sets the stage nicely. Carell and his characters wife are sitting in a car on the side of a highway listening to the radio. A news announcement details the failure of an mission to prevent the asteroid ‘Matilda’ from impacting the Earth. Dodge (Carell’s character) opens the movie with a line like “Well, I guess we missed the exit.” Dodge’s wife promptly gets out of the car and runs through some wood towards a town in the distance. This struck me as a small reaction to a small joke at the end of the world. If it were me in that car I would be the one making that joke but I know some people who would lose their minds at this. If I was on the receiving end of that quip I would definitely lose my mind, laugh and cry at the same time. This is the END of all things. The radio announces that the Earth has three weeks until the asteroid hits. Three weeks until the end of the world.
Later we find many people who have either embraced or just ignored the apocalypse. Dodge’s cleaning lady keeps coming by his apartment till the end, there is a family restaurant turned into a happy-go-lucky orgy house and a man commits suicide via assassin at an inopportune time. Before seeing all this though Dodge escapes riots in his home town with a young woman who lives in the same apartment complex. The movie centers on the journey of these two and they eventually find love in each other. Really the whole movie is about actually noticing what is right in front of you.
I feel that the more I achieve, the farther I look ahead and I tend to forget where I am. I forget how far I have come. There is a point where Penny (the young woman) and Dodge are talking and we learn about how they each got this point in their lives. Penny asks Dodge what he does for work and when he says he is an insurance salesman Penny asks why anyone would want to do that. This makes Dodge reflect back on his life and realize that even though he did not get to achieve his dreams, he still has a pretty good life.
I should look back more often and realize just how far I have come from that person who doesn’t talk. I need to realize that no matter how far I have left to go, I have made so much progress. I started out long ago to increase the amount of social activity in my life. I have gone from not even being able to schedule a dentist appointment to making new friends and even going to the dentist! I hope that this movie struck you in a similar manner as it hit me. The more we look ahead, the less we tend to see.
Taking a look back on what I have done for fun and what I call my hobbies, I realize that they all stem from fantasies and fictions. For example, most of my so called hobbies include videogames, reading fantasy or science fiction books and even watching a few of the many Let’s Play YouTube channels. For those who don’t know, a Let’s Play is a video where someone records themselves playing videogames. They may do a voiceover and some even show a video of their own reactions to the gameplay.
All of the hobbies that I seem to have, while entertaining, have no basis in reality. This does not mean that reading fantasy or playing videogames can’t help you in the real world. My current activities have made me curious about my own world and despite what many think, videogames do help with real world skills. I find that hobbies like videogames or reading are very difficult to talk about with people who don’t also enjoy them. Some of the people I have met can’t even understand why I “waste” my time playing games. It seem as though nothing I can say and no comparison I make helps them understand what it is about my hobbies that interests me. Maybe it’s a failure on my part on how to communicate my thoughts and ideas. That and maybe some people cannot see what I get out of immersing myself in a fantasy world.
I have decided to find new hobbies that both interest me and give me interesting thing to speak about when those around me are not interested in my current hobbies. I wish to have something to talk about when I meet new people. Most of the time when I meet a someone and I try to talk about my hobbies and interests, if they don’t share at least a small interest in books or games I see their eyes glaze over and they sort of shut down. What I am saying holds less than no interest to them and sometimes I can see that someone has “marked” me as a person of little interest. I have even met people who try to actively discourage me from my own hobbies.
I am going to try and find something new to do and enjoy. Something that won’t glaze the eyes of people who don’t know what it is and maybe I will have more, and better conversations in the future. This is not to say that I will abandon my books and videogames but maybe having all your hobbies in fantasy worlds is not as healthy as I thought it was. I don’t yet know what I will decide to take up but I hope that I find something that fits the bill.