My wife and I are going on vacation in a few days. We still have not decided where, but it will probably be either Greece or Turkey. We'll be there at least 5 nights, during which, somewhat like Joi, I will forbid myself from touching a computer, although I have no pet rock or whatever. God I hope I can do this. I'm suffering withdrawal pains already!
My geekness runs deeper than that, though. A few days ago we were having dinner with some friends of ours, and my wife blurbs something about us going to Greece for 10 days. “What??”, I suddenly jumped (well, not really jump. I was totally surprised, though), “We said seven days max!” and then I went on and on about how I have to have a few empty days before my new work starts so that I can check my emails, be with the computer and generally get into a “computing state” before I start my new job. The silence at the table when I finished talking was pretty horrible. People were looking at me as if I was an alien from mars who had just landed an hour ago and is looking for test subjects.
Is it that bad? A few days later we sat with more friends over dinner (celebrating a friend’s engagement) and somehow, it got ugly again. The subject rose that I would have a few days off between the vacation and the trip to Greece, and I made the mistake of telling one of the guys how it would be so great, that I’ll have a few days to just sit down and learn C++. That friend was also a programmer, so I was totally thrown off by his reaction. It consisted of a short pause, followed by a wondering “why the hell I would want to ruin a perfectly good day off sitting in front of my computer”. Stumped, I was just sitting there as my other friend sat there and began to tell the story from a few days before. Everyone had a big laugh, including myself, but on the way home I started thinking whether this was really a normal feeling. Shouldn’t a “normal” person want to go to the beach instead of sitting in front of a computer?
Both of my friends who did not understand me, are both very technical, study oriented people. One is a dev team lead, and the other is a mathematician. You could say that they both know what it’s like to sit and learn your ass off. Yet they still find the time to enjoy other things, something which I find harder. Does that make me a geekier person or something? Does it not show that I have a real passion for what I do? But then, they show passion as well, so what gives? If I “give in” too much to the “other” things in life, it would make me feel not on top of my game. Like I’m losing points or something. Like every day that goes by that I’m not on that computer, learning new stuff, is a day I’m totally missing something.
My dilemma is solved once I realize that I am not only defined by my programming experience, but by my family, and how we spend time together, grow together and learn together. Yes, it will continue to be a struggle of compromises, but that’s life.