The Good Life.


Every day I walk into the office, I renew my longstanding agreement with capitalist society. I will sit in a box and write what you want me to write, society. I will try to sell people things with the promise that those things will improve their lives. I will sell products and advice to the elderly that promise to make their computers less of a pain in the ass, thereby postponing their irrelevance to their well-wired families; I will sell products and advice to the young that promises to make them the person they want to one day become. I will agitate to do better work only within certain boundaries that are safe for both of us.

And then I will go home and sweat out my unused potential, kiss the lady and the cats who make this life bearable, and maybe type a word or two that come from a place of freedom.

I have a love-hate relationship with many of the major activities in my life. I work a job which gives me security for myself and my loved ones, doing fascinating things with technology and wonderful coworkers–and it gives me just enough free time to think about where my efforts could be better spent (and cultivated). I devote myself to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which has given me strength, confidence, and a dear group of friends around the world–but steals time and energy away from improving my immediate situation and my social time. And when it comes to the games I play, I love them because they challenge me to be disciplined, creative, quick-thinking and dedicated–all of which is perfect for turning me into a good little cog in the machine.

Every morning I wake up and hop in the shower, grab some food, and feed the cats. For the past few weeks I’ve been eating some microwaved eggs on a toasted English muffin (with cheese and Shiyuan’s homemade chimmichurri) alongside my normal breakfast shake. Assembling all that amid some loud-meowin’ cats is a process. By now, I’ve figured that it usually works best if I:

Start toasting the English muffins
Break and scramble the eggs in the ramekins, microwave for 1 minute
Start assembling the shake (prep kale, get frozen fruit, add OJ, water, whey protein)
Pull eggs from microwave
Prep cat food and microwave for 18 seconds
Turn blender on
Assemble egg sandwich
Pull cat food from microwave, feed cats
Turn blender off, take everything to desk

Once I sit down at my desk, I eat everything as quickly as possible while watching some Day[9] videos or something. Presumably, that is to get my mind into Starcraft Mode, as I’ve been waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual to ensure I can get a game or two in before work. However, there is no doubt in my mind that I am permanently in Starcraft Mode, as my breakfast ritual is a finely tuned Build Order that would no doubt put me in a position for a devastating timing attack in the Game of Life–or so I hope, anyway.

Win or lose, I’m out at 9, where I get into a stranger’s car and head off to work. The car ride grants me another 20 minutes or so of blessed free time. I usually spend it in roughly equal parts on Reddit, catching up on my RSS feeds, or dueling with my coworkers in Words With Friends. Believe it or not, I consider all three investments in my career. In that respect, this iPad will pay for itself many times over.

Lately, I’ve started drinking coffee at the office again. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with coffee. If I have a lot on my plate for that morning, a cup can push me past noontime procrastination and I can get A Lot Of Shit Done. If I don’t have a lot of stuff to do, I end up furiously spinning my wheels. So I try to see what needs doing before I commit. I try to use coffee sparingly, to keep my tolerance somewhat low. Stim packs are best saved for when you need them most.

I’ll spare you the mundane details of the rest of the day. Suffice to say that I am not ashamed to say that video games Got Me Where I Am Today without the slightest trace of irony. They taught me how to extract every ounce of usable energy from my person to make myself stronger, smarter, more productive. They also taught me to be satisfied with High Scores, Achievements, silly gear for my avatar, and a whole host of numbers and ranks that serve as an intrinsically worthless progression marker. Parents fear that video games will turn their children into unsocialized brutes ought not worry; they are a near-perfect tool for preparing your child for modern society.

Some people write about putting their experience managing a guild on their resumes as the precursor to Management Experience. I don’t see why that’s surprising in the slightest.

I harbor no fantasies of commune living off the grid. Nor am I foolish enough to believe that I can one day run fast enough on this treadmill that I can one day outrun the demands of our modern lives. But I do hope that the decisions I make on a daily basis will lead me to a good place–one where I am balanced in personal ambition and care for others, physical comfort and soulful gratification. A place where I can do the work I deserve in peace.

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