Thursday, June 19, 2008

Network Diagrams and Passion

I regret it every time I take part in an arts conference. Not while I'm there. While I'm there I have a wonderful time. But I regret it when I come back.

So I've been back from the Trinity Arts Conference in Dallas for four days now. During the past two days I have been heavily involved in generating the World's Biggest, Most Convoluted Network Diagram. It looks something like the diagram on the left, but mine is actually a lot more complicated. When printed out it is something like 10 feet by 6 feet.

This is a High Priority Diagram! The world will stop if it is not completed tomorrow. Infrastructure architects anxiously await the results. They pace their cubicles, waiting for me to be finished. They send me email messages. They call me. They send me Instant Messages, which are kind of like email you can't ignore. They would like me to work half days, any twelve hours I prefer.

The problem is that I don't care about this diagram. It's the damn arts conference. I go away and get energized, and I come back to ... network diagrams. When I am not interrupted by things I love I can adopt a sort of dogged, lobotomized persistence which results in managers who are pleased with me. I find a sort of pathetic pleasure in working with Microsoft Visio, in mapping server names to IP addresses, in making sure the routers and firewalls are correctly labeled. And then I go away and I find myself asking the unanswerable question, which sounds something like this: what the hell am I doing?

Actually, I know what I'm doing. I'm earning a paycheck. I'm supporting my family. I'm helping to put two kids through college. These are all noble goals, and abject poverty, which is what would result if I stopped doing these diagrams, is not a noble goal. But right now I don't care, and I need to care, hard and long. For those of you who are praying types, please pray that I can muster up the energy and enthusiasm to get this done.


Anonymous said...

I too have to wrestle with getting excited about day-to-day work and "the day job", thinking that ultimately, it doesnt matter, and other things (family, faith, friends, etc.) are more important, or have more meaning, etc.

I have to remind myself EVERY DAY of the view of work and calling clarified by the Reformers and Puritans - that all our work is noble, and there is no biblical distinction between the "sacred" and the "secular". The interesting thing about our work is that it is both a curse (see Genesis) and a blessing (see Proverbs, etc.). I have found that reflecting on the fact that God gave me this cubicle job to help those around me, and those that ultimately use our products/services , and this is a form of general blessing (the whole raining on the wicked bit). This is all in addition to putting food on the table for the family. And so I remember that work done to the glory of God is always noble. But it is usually a struggle, until all things are made right again.

I am a praying type.

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