Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
So it’s December, and the arbitrary date we use to mark the passage of a year of time is coming near.
There are some people, mostly in the fiction circles, that I follow because they keep me grounded. When things get rough, they tweet “Chop wood. Carry water.”
When I was younger I didn’t need this advice. I had enough energy to be motivated or outraged or afraid enough to handle everything. Now there is too much everything to be everything for everything.
While the year has been a maelstrom of political drama, natural disasters, unnatural disasters, family medical issues, conferences, travel, drama, and oh so much rain, I’m making an effort not to get lost in the big things. It’s the little things that, when I take them in the moment, move my life forward. Chop wood, carry water.
Get up. Take a shower. Feed the dogs. Go to work. Create something new. Repair something broken. Come home. Eat dinner. Feed the dogs. Do some laundry and the dishes. Do something relaxing. Go to bed.
Before 2018, this was the routine. Throughout 2018, this was the routine. After 2018, this will still be the routine. Chop wood, carry water.
I worked all year on some big projects, and most of them won’t launch this year. There’s close to nothing I can point at publicly and say “This is what I accomplished in 2018, this is the difference I made in the world.”
I produced northward of 200 wireframed screens, over a dozen process maps, dozens of defect tickets, not enough design specs. I taught my co-workers about accessibility, I taught them about progressive enhancement, I taught them about semantic design, I taught them about pinball. I made friends. I took care of friends and family. I chipped away at injustice, and I tried not to add in more than I removed. Chop wood, carry water.
I was not a rumbling earthquake reshaping the landscape. I was a tiny weed putting down roots and using my limited strength to widen the cracks in the sidewalk. It was all I had the energy for, and because it was everything I could do, I’ve decided it was enough.
Chop wood, carry water.
Also published on Medium.