There’s an apocryphal tale telling the story of buttoned up IBM suits arriving for an interview with Gary Kindell, who’d single handedly written a PC operating system. He then decided the most appropriate response was to slack off for the day rather than entertaining a squillion dollar contract with the man.
Here was single individual presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to harness his shonky wagon to a corporate monolith, ready to ship twenty million personal computers. Instead he flew his aeroplane, leaving the suits to throw their lot in with Bill Gates. The rest is recent history. I always though the bloke was an idiot, but now I’m not not so sure.
Kindell’s action stand as a metaphor for slacking off when the real world demands commitment. I’ve always enjoyed deadlines – mainly the sound of them whooshing above my head, while I’m buried in something far more important. This feels as close to anarchy as a bloke who slavishly followed corporate hours in a monkey suit could ever go.
Today we rode mountain bikes. That’s pretty much the default state for a Sunday. Tomorrow I’ll go ride some more, which really isn’t how you should spend a Monday. The joy of being paid by outputs not inputs means you get to pick the times to work and those to slack. It’s easy in winter when sideways rain slashes at the window, somewhat harder when the trails are dry and there’s a freshly lubed bike giving you the full Labrador.
I should be better at this. I’ve been at it for twenty + years,, and still there are too many moments regressing into a Risky Business ‘somedays you just have to say what the fuck’. And here’s why; it’s not simple displacement activity or cognitive dissidence – no what we’re mining here is the tired ‘no man ever went to his grave wishing he’d spent more time in the office’
Obviously not. As he’d be spending it with his family. Or his Church. In my case the latter lacks rote, hymns and timid stupidity, but is full of trees, trails and epiphanies. I know what desperate repetition feels like, and I know better what tortured tires sound like so there’s nothing that’s going to make me spend a Sunday under the pretence that somehow Christian values are a conduit to a better place. I’ll risk the here and now, thanks for asking.
And not family either. Well not entirely. There’s a line of excuses mirrored by pretending that riding bikes makes me a better person. Send out grumpy, get back normal, caring human being. Yes, and indeed not really. Sometimes I’d rather than play with my bikes than play with my kids. Does that make me a rubbish parent? Probably. Am I alone? Probably not.
Two weeks ago I received multiple texts from good people who had the misfortune to work for me. They told me one of our team had died suddenly while sitting in a meeting. 150 miles from his wife and two kids. Working his arse off to provide for that family. Four minutes between a massive heart attack and the world going black.
He was two years older than me. and I’m pretty venerable. He was the perfect contractor, skilled, hard-working and interesting. Taught me a lot. Put more into his community than I could ever be arsed to. Told me a great joke how his clan would rather put a Mercedes on the drive than food in the kids mouths. Funny, clever and extremely competent. Taken way before his time.
Today was great. Riding with my friends and trying to keep up with them. Feeling fit and warm in the occasional sunshine. Looking into distant valleys and not wanting to be anywhere else. Taking the piss and getting it back in spades. Pushing it a bit and caching in on dopamine. Having a beer and wondering why the real world isn’t like this.
This isn’t about riding mountain bikes. It’s about working out what is important. It’s thinking about a bloke tuning blue being desperately attended to by the designated first aider. It’s wondering if this is as good as it gets, and trying bloody hard to find out.
Life is about choices. You can vacillate but that’s still making a choice. The older you get the more important it is. Pretty sure that work deadline is going to slide.