4 min read

Can He Build It?

Can He Build It?
I've never watched an episode in my life. All credit to Keith Chapman?

I'm back at work this week, after having been on three weeks of glorious holidays, in which I could do whatever I wanted and not really have to think too hard, so this blog post is going to be a good old-fashioned stream of consciousness.

I've heard from multiple people over the years that whenever they take a lot of time off from having a job, they eventually get bored.

I don't think that could happen to me.

Whenever I have a decent break, I always have plenty of things to do. In fact, it feels like there is never enough time to do all the things I want to do, so when the end of the break rolls around I'm always wishing that I had more time.

Though, maybe I just haven't taken a long enough break.

I think the longest break I've taken in my entire life, barring school holidays, is five weeks, which was when I was between my last job and my current job at Atlassian.

It was great and I didn't get bored at all. I spent a bunch of time actually looking for a new job, then once I did find one (aka Engineering Manager at Atlassian), I was furiously training myself up so I didn't feel so underqualified. The best part was that I really only did those things in the mornings and had the afternoons free to do whatever I wanted.

I suspect that people who get bored when they have too much time on their hands just haven't discovered video games. Or books, which are like video games, but you have to do all the computation and rendering in your head instead of outsourcing that to a piece of hardware.

Speaking of video games, I've played a lot of Valheim while I was holidays.

It's a third-person survival game set in a procedurally generated world steeped in Norse mythology that focuses on exploration, crafting, and building.

Speaking of building, as part of your adventures in the game, you will almost certainly have to build a home. Somewhere you can keep all your stuff and prepare yourself for any arduous expeditions across the seas, and somewhere that, when everything is said and done, you can return to for some rest and relaxation.

You can put as much or as little effort into your home as you want.

I built a fortress.

Would it defend against...vikings? Am I building walls around myself?

I'm not going to go into any detail about exactly what the fortress was, because that's not really the point of this blog post.

If, indeed, it has one.

Instead, the process of building the fortress made me think about what goes on in my head when I build things, both personally and professionally.

I have plenty of ideas; glimmering, ephemeral threads that could be pulled on and woven into something meaningful.

For me, most of those threads just sort of hang there indefinitely.

I look at the idea, start breaking down the work that needs to be done in order to manifest it in reality, realise that it will take a lot of effort and just walk away.

I don't really know why.

Maybe I'm more burnt out than I think I am? I've reflected on this before, on how difficult it is to get started with something because I just don't know if I have the energy to go through with it, alongside all of the other things I need to do.

Maybe I know that once I start something I won't stop until I've completed it to a high enough standard, where that standard is some nebulous concept that only exists in my head and is constantly shifting further and further away as I make progress.

Maybe I'm just lazy?

Whatever it is, it probably stops me from doing a lot of cool things.

Going back to the fortress, the only reason I managed to push through that initial reluctance was because I'm playing Valheim co-operatively with my wife.

So, it's not my fortress.

It's our fortress.

And that made all the difference, because I wasn't alone. I didn't have to do everything myself and I knew that someone other than me would benefit from all of the work that I put into it.

I feel like there is a lesson of some sort here, but as is typical of these stream of consciousness posts, I'm not really going to put the effort into figuring out what it is.

I bet it's related to teams though. Someone should start a company to help people unleash that potential.

If you take anything away from this rambling, incoherent stream of words, it should be to give Valheim a go.

It's not a perfect game by any measure, but after you're done exploring your virtual world, slugging through the muck and snow, fighting off whatever horrible creatures are intent on ending your imaginary life, you get to return back to a home you built yourself, with your own heavily pixelated and blocky hands.

And that's a surprisingly good feeling.