Yesterday was not a good day. The reasons (plural) aren’t really important for the sake of this discussion. But at 7pm, with the day behind me, and an hour and a half before my wife was scheduled to get home from yoga, I switched over to my emacs window, and started going after a problem I’ve been poking at for 2 weeks.
I had figured out how to do this with jquery, with these fields, and have a solution for one of my sites. But this is something that would make a great Drupal module. One that requires no configuration, and just makes your user’s experience better. How to get there, required banging my head a lot on internals, reading a lot of code that I thought might be examples, and not getting anywhere. Last night, frustrated with things that weren’t this problem, I went after it again, this time by brute force. After about 45 minutes of trial and error, I found a hook I could use to patch myself into the execution stream at the right point. Better yet, it seemed like this was probably the right way to do it, not some dodgey hack. By the time Susan got home, I had the shell of this module mostly working. Not releasable yet, but the minimum viable piece was now done, and the rest was about cleaning up for release.
I felt better.
There is a longer story here about how I entered College to be a PhD Physicist, and I exited to do web development for the Sydney Olympics. But the key take away was a realization, late in my Junior year, that when I wanted to relax, I went off and coded something. While I could never point to the day it started happening, I do vaguely remember realizing that my happy place, my retreat from the stress of the world, was deep inside an emacs session for hours at a time.
The fact that the thing that relaxes me, writing software, also happens to be a key piece of a quite profitable profession, made me a fortunate individual. Having gone to college and watched the modern internet emerge, which is an even longer story, made me doubly so.
The best piece of advice I ever got was from my friend and mentor, Eric, in college. “The key to happiness is to figure out what you’d do anyway; then find a way to get paid to do it.” Even if this wasn’t my job, I’d be writing software. It’s what relaxes me.
What relaxes you? What would you do if money was no object? Why did you become whatever you call your profession? Drop a comment below, because I’m actually quite interested.
 Yes, I’ve been long enough in the Software Engineering space to know programming is a small part of it (especially at a large company), but it’s still a very important part.