In September, I delved into the heart of Lake Tahoe’s Desolation Wilderness for six days of solo backpacking admidst granitic peaks and rockbound lakes. I participated in a very tangible dance of physical exclusion from civilization. Days and nights would pass without me seeing more than one or two people, if any at all. The experience was invigorating for both my body and mind.
For the past six days, I’ve been alone on a trip through another wasteland of images, hopes and fears, and memories. Entrenched in the house’s computer room virtually non-stop since Thursday (or was it Wednesday?), I’ve been coding like a fiend. It’s all been a blur, as if the past six days was one long day. There’s slots to my right and soups to my right, with print statements raining down on me like November Rain.
In many ways, the depth of this week’s isolation far surpasses that which I experienced in Desolation. Miles away from the nearest paved road or toilet, and with no cell phone coverage in sight, I was physically isolated from the world in September. There’s no choice in the matter. If I wanted to get out, all I had to do was hike out. Today, every option — phone, Internet, email, television, biking, and friends — is available at my fingertips, yet I continue to block everything out to code for a platform that most people buried five years ago.
You know what? I’m enjoying this mental trip. I haven’t felt this energized about something in a very long time. When you can’t sleep, when you don’t want to sleep, when you want to push on because you know that every day, every minute, every second counts, that’s when you know that you’re in the zone and have found a passion and calling worth following. It’s like having the Great American Novel all written in your head. All that remains is for you to sit down and start typing. This is how I’ve felt for the past several days… and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. I’ve seen the sun go down, go up and go back down with nary a thought about whether it’s good or not for me. It’s just something I’ve got to do.
All that said, I decided to take a break this evening to have dinner with Dave, Mitzi, and their friend Jim from Chicago. Our handheld computers struck a fancy with each other and started a spirited conversation while Dave and I discussed the merits of a two-piece communications solution, such as the Palm Tungsten-T coupled with an Ericsson T68i via Bluetooth vs. a one-piece integrated solution as exemplified by the Palm Tungsten-W, Handspring Treo, or RIM Blackberry device. I don’t know which technology is going to win out in the end, but soon enough we will all be using some personal and portable device to help us keep up with and track of the ever-increasing onslaught of communication.
Sometimes you wish you could block it all out, don’t you? You can. It’s called finding your passion, your second wind. I don’t know if I’ve found mine, but I now remember what it was like to have had one back in 1997-1998.
Over the long haul, of course, I’d have a balance between working on my passion and being integrated and involved with my friends and society. Physical trips that isolate are a little more difficult for me to stay in touch, so I know I need to work on the communication part with these mental solo trips.