Imagine a person who had to sit in an enclosed box, motionless, staring at a screen, with little to no social contact and all but disconnected from nature and reality. A pretty sad sight, no?
A sad sight yes, but this perfectly describes the standard lifestyle of the millions of programmers in the world, including that of myself.
You programmers know what I’m describing here. When we program we get sucked into this virtual, artificial world of bits and bytes which our whole mind occupies. The real world vanishes and all that matters is how best we can manipulate this virtual world of ours. We become disconnected to everything else.
I don’t think it’s far fetched to assert that humans were not designed to live or work like this! We exist as the product of billions of years of evolution where our ancestors competed against other species to come out on top in the end and successfully pass on their superior genes from offspring to offspring. You can’t tell me that the resulting superior genes you and I have inherited was meant to be expressed sitting in a cubicle from 9 to 5!
I feel the effects of this lifestyle everyday as I leave work. It feels unhealthy, disheartening and is sucking the life out of my soul. I’m tired of coming from the weekend into the dreary space of my office cubicle. I’m tired of becoming totally disconnected from nature and reality. I’m tired of the endless cycle of burnouts and recuperation. I need change!
However, I have a problem. I don’t want to leave my job. I actually love my job, the engineering part, the part where I can use my creativity and intellect to create things for the enjoyment and benefit for others. I know this is true for the majority of engineers. We love to build and create things for the world. And this I believe is profoundly human.
So I love the work but not the lifestyle. I’ve been stuck with this thought for a while until this crazy idea came up: Is it possible to totally change the programmer lifestyle while still being an effective programmer?
So I want to try something different and unconventional. I want to explore the possibilities of what a programmer’s lifestyle can be. Does it have to be relegated to working in front of a monitor in a cubicle 8 hours a day? Do we as programmers have to live with the fact that we will be under continual chronic stress for most of our lives? Or is it possible to break these boundaries and change how we work and think while still being fully productive as an engineer?
These are questions that I want to explore with some N=1 experimentation.
I’ve been inspired by the primal philosophy that we are happiest and healthiest when we live closer to our primal/genetic nature. I’ve been exploring this idea with diet (Paleo diet), exercise (MovNat), and general lifestyle (Primal Blueprint) and have found incredible discoveries about myself. I’d like to now see how this philosophy can be applied to one of man’s more modern and least primal of creations: the programmer.
I’ll be documenting my efforts in this blog and hopefully something good comes of it. Please share any suggestions or comments (good or bad). Let’s see how this goes. :)