It is now two weeks ago that I shared the 3 lies I told myself that lead to the failure of Likewise. After quitting the project I had been working on for months, it was time for a much needed break to reflect and mentally prepare for the projects to come. Luckily, countries within Europe have opened up to visitors a bit more, so we managed to rent a car and drive to a location in beautiful Slovakia, with plenty of nature around.
One evening we decided to fire up the old outdoor grill to prepare ourselves a little feast. By the time we heated the charcoal and prepared the food to be grilled, a thunderstorm appeared above our heads and it started raining. Any reasonable person would’ve taken the food inside to finish cooking it there, but for some reason we both didn’t want to. It was like something deep inside of us got woken up by the struggle to make food outside, and we didn’t want to stop. We stayed outside for hours, in the pouring rain, until we both finished eating.
Thinking back on this event, I wonder if we, digital makers, are making a mistake with our lifestyles. Despite all the privileges we enjoy, like money, freedom and security, are we losing part of what it really means to be human? Are we sacrificing part of ourselves by spending such a significant portion of our time indoors in front of a screen? How often do you really see the sun? When was the last time you actually felt the rain?
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the benefits of working online and wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, wouldn’t it be incredible if all these hours spent in front of a screen would culminate into something tangible, something real instead of something that only exists in the virtual world? Perhaps this is why so many software developers secretly (or in Daniel Vassallo’s case, not so secretly) dream of woodworking.
Woodworking is just one example though. What about metalworking, construction and farming? As a software developer, I’d love to apply my skills in all of these fields, despite never having had training in any of them. The idea of creating something high tech, by combining traditional crafts with modern solutions excites me like almost nothing else. I also don’t think that it's a coincidence that so many digital makers are interested in minimalism, vanlife, burning man, hiking and camping. These jobs, hobbies and lifestyles give a way to connect with what it means to be human again.
I'm very interested in how you combine digital skills with real, physical crafts, like woodworking, construction, metalwork and agriculture. Even if you don't actually combine digital and physical crafts, but somehow manage to find a great balance in them, like digital makers that are minimalists, hikers, vandwellers, bushcrafters and homesteaders! Are there any role models in this space I should absolutely follow? How do you personally deal with the desire to make something real? Let me know in the comments!