I have said for a long time that
“If I’m thinking, I’m happy.”
Today changed my mind a bit. Thinking does make me happy, but I realized something (perhaps very simple) today: that idea may be a sufficient but not a necessary condition.
I had an email this morning from a collaborator in Europe who needed help with a particular tool. I volunteered to help. We’re on Linux systems and GNU screen is a terminal extension program I have used frequently during training or teaching sessions. I can make several windows and collaborators can watch what I do or I can open an in-terminal editor (read vim, emacs or nano etc.) and we can chat. The text file can then be saved for later review. This is a very helpful framework that I have used often.
After a few failed attempts, we figured it out and went on with our days. It was as simple as a configuration file being inappropriate and the associated error message being less than useless because it was distracting. However, the utility and craft of good and bad error messages might be a different post altogether.
The problem presented was a variant of something I had seen before. It was a challenge, but I realized that the challenge wasn’t the aspect of what I truly enjoyed about my morning. I think I’ve often been of this mindset, but I think I’ve only just accepted that my desire to have useful contributions may supersede my desire to be challenged.
I have also said for some time, that I have found myself very naturally making tools that help everyone be successful. This phrase may be too long. I think I will start saying:
‘If I’m helping, I’m happy.’
What do you think?
After I was done, I got to talking to a man named Thomas in the place where I was sitting. He said to me that I am a resource in search of an opportunity. I will be thinking about that phrase as well.