This is probably the best advice I have ever received, and unfortunately to many people don’t live by these rules. People worry about advancing their careers, but at what cost. I for one refuse to put anything in front of my family. Family, Friends, Health, Education, Work – in that order, every single time and if you ask me to change that order you will be sorely disappointed in the answer.
What made me write this, I will get to that soon but it was enjoying a very simple pleasure in life – one I refuse to miss out on. I started thinking about it in respect to all the things we take for granted in our technology enabled world and as a geek all of the great technology I just look past every day. This morning I woke up and hit a small piece of plastic on my wall that made a contact between between two pieces metal that are pulled into very thin strands and made flexible and insulated by a combination of chemicals that prevent electrical current from killing, or at least harming me. This piece of plastic allows that same electrical current to flow into other small strands of metal that produce light – I am talking about a light switch and light bulb. After I demanded water be instantly heated by fire so I could take a shower, I stepped inside of over 3500 pounds of metal and plastic made up by thousands of small moving parts and gears which is powered by tons of decaying plant life that is converted into a liquid that can be consumed by these combined pieces of metal. I then step on a lever which engages more gears to propel this 3500 pounds worth of metal and plastic in motion – I am talking about my car. All this was accomplished before 7AM.
I spent the day discussing Sarbanes-Oxley and how we are going to move 1Tb email; essentially just electronic 0’s and 1’s which have no real physical weight to them over 3000 miles over more stands of thin metal and tubes with light bouncing around inside of them. I used a device that is no bigger than a book, a book that could only contain a finite amount of information, but this device has endless amounts of information, more than could ever have fit into a single book. This device also sent the sound of my voice and a real time image of my face to a person 1000 miles away so we could have a conversation face to face despite the physical distance between us. I again used this device to send a letter, an electronic version of what we used to write as kids to a former co-worker to setup a lunch meeting. All this was accomplished before 10AM.
I then used a tiny device, no larger than the size of my hand to have a conversation with a person in New York driving their own 3500 pound pile of materials with no wires between him or I. We discussed reference architectures, the role of VMware – a piece of software that allows what once took hundreds and hundreds of computers to do on only a few computers (and I am not even getting into how computers work!), we discussed his company and my company, we had a great conversation just like we were sitting across the table from each other… that took less than hour. I had more meetings, and more visits, and configured more software and not 1 of these things impressed me in the least, after all I am in IT – making these things work properly is what I do.
Yet after using all of this wonderful technology, the highlight of my day, the point in my day which made me prouder and fascinated me more than any piece of technology, or working with any fool who thinks working 70 hours a week and not being with their family should be cause for celebration, took only a few seconds. It was watching my not yet 2 year old daughter look at her shoes, study them and understand them, remove the straps and place them on the correct foot one after the other without any help from me and put the straps back in place. She looked up at me and smiled – that was all I needed to know that my priorities in life are correct.