I'm doing an uncertainty challenge this month along with my "not buying extraneous stuff" challenge. The challenge I chose was to do work on my creative projects each day (working my way back up to 30 minutes. I thought this was going to be simple. Just take 10 minutes and work on something creative. Boy howdy I was mistaken.
Ever experienced one of those novelty cans of "peanuts" where when you pull open the lid you find that there are no tasty peanuts, but instead are snake-like springs inside? That's pretty much what I've uncovered while doing the "Clear Target" drill. What I wound up doing was a bunch of self-reflection that pretty much covered all of the drills in some fashion.
I started asking myself why I wasn't doing the drill. This should be pretty simple. Just write something in the Pepper&Carrot Wii, do some coding, or literally do anything: reading, thinking, whatever. Last night I was reading about the beginnings of the Commodore PET 2001 computer (an iconic machine that started the computer revolution I've been wanting to make a game about). Reading the stories of these folks who are legendary (and names that I didn't recognize, yet) made me wonder why I wasn't using my gifts like they did. It got me thinking about my career, my game design, and what I was doing in that moment. I don't think I ever thought I was good enough. I was always looking or how to make things easier and felt like I'd missed something important along the way. I try to simplify things so I don't have as much cognitive load (sometimes oversimplifying, but that's another story). I thought about how I struggled in college with programming and learning concepts that were completely foreign to me. I remembered struggling with the math portions and different languages other than Pascal. I wondered why I hadn't dove into my beloved Atari 8-bit computers and learned every little nook and cranny of that architecture. I started even doubting if I was cut out for this, or if I was cosplaying a developer / game designer because I thought it looked cool. I got into some deep thoughts that touched on a lot of areas. It took me into some deep soul-searching that I wasn't expecting.
I've been down these paths before: the paths of guilt for all of the wasted hours, the fear that I wasn't good enough, the doubts that I could ever finish something complex, and the shame that whatever I created might just be daft crap. I've been working with these over the years, but I hadn't realized they had coalesced so heavily in my mental septic system. I think part of this is my cancer diagnosis and the feeling that "this is it", and I have to "stand and deliver" with little to show for my efforts. I'm turning 51 and am really feeling the pull of mortality weighing heavily on me. If not now, when?
I started carving away at these things in my mind, holding them up to the light to figure out if they're true or not. I chipped away, piece by piece. It was a deeply personal journey and one of those reckonings that I needed to have.
What I realized is that my heart is still there and still wants to be curious. It wants to enjoy this journey of discovery and learning. If something falls out of it that's useful then great. If not then at least I'll have been entertained along the way. Life's too short to worry about how others perceive your efforts. If they don't like it they can find millions of other diversions to occupy their time. I couldn't care less, and I shouldn't let this influence how I want to spend my time.
I had one of those dreams where you uncover another part of your house that you wonder why you're not using. This one was even deeper than the usually abandoned places that are in my fictional house. It had a grand staircase with carved rock landings, bedrooms, a separate kitchen, and a gorgeous screened in view of what I could only surmise as water or something. There were workmen over in that area so I couldn't stay there, but I vowed I'd return there to watch the sunset or the sunrise (whichever way this was facing. I'm a dreamer, not an architect.) When I woke up I attached the meaning that this was my creativity, waiting for me to use it. It was already occupied by other people (there was some strange back-story of the house being occupied by other folks because of some emergency or what-not), but eventually it would be mine to enjoy in peace. Of course no such place exists in my house (at least not that we've found yet, not for lack of searching) but it definitely exists in my mind. I long to plumb its depths and uncover what is in there. I want to push myself to figure out how far I can take things. I want to sit quietly by that screened in place and discover what views I didn't know I already had. This vast space exists underneath my conscious mind and dammit I want to explore it.
This morning I was still uncertain if I would do the challenge (there's still crap lodged in my mental sewer that needs unbunging). But I let those feelings go and brought up TIC80 to play with mouse movements in there. I was something simple but it brought me some joy to see a sprite move with my mouse movements. That's one of the spaces I want to play and explore.