At the end of last year, I stated that I would spend 2022 on four Great Works. We’re about a quarter of the way through, so this is an update on where I stand in terms of both progress and the mental state that led me to make the original post.
The First Work
I’ve been on the job for almost a full year now, and I still wake up every morning wondering if this will be the day I get fired. So far, that hasn’t happened, and I’m amazed.
In the past three months, I’ve been toiling away at the “Alana” project, and it has finally begun to take shape. Instead of being a lone developer, I’m now the manager of a team that includes a second developer for the front-end, two designers, and a marketing team I have yet to meet. The site is getting built, and that’s largely because of me. However, if—and I stress “if” here—we make our launch date of April 26, it’ll be because everyone did their part.
This whole thing has been less a test of my abilities as a programmer, which I’ve honed over the past 30 years, than a test of me as a person. I’m not a manager. I never wanted to be. I’d rather just write code, but I don’t have that option in this case. And the code I am writing, in this case, is fairly straightforward. Probably the most invention I’ve done is actually in server configuration, of all things.
The Second Work
For the second work, I have until April 7 to submit my petition to be on the ballot. I’ve already launched my campaign site, though it’s still very much a work in progress. I also need to do all the legal necessities of running a campaign, like finance reports, and logistical things like getting signs.
I’m running as an independent, because I believe that political parties are the bane of liberty. That said, an independent representative will likely have to show support for one of the two sides to gain any traction. For me, there’s only one realistic option. A few years ago, I’d say you were crazy if you claimed that I’d find common cause with the Republican Party on anything, but they’re marginally less insane than the Democrats these days, and the people who actually do want a better future have joined their ranks. Therefore, if elected, I see no other choice than to caucus with the right side of the aisle.
Of course, that assumes I have a chance at getting elected at all, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. There is no Democrat candidate for House District 27, and no other independents have announced their intent to run. It would be a two-way race, but the incumbent is very much a “traditional” Republican: big business, big corruption, and nothing for the masses. My district includes a lot of rural and suburban people who are crying out for a populist candidate to represent them in Nashville. All the pieces are there. I just have to find a way to put them together.
The Third Work
My spiritual journey continues in fits and starts. I started The Weekly Technetic in January, and I’ve managed to keep it going at one post per week since. Those posts aren’t as long as some of the ones here at PPC, but I think they’re very…on point. They let me explore my thoughts in a way I really haven’t in a long time, and that has helped.
I still have big plans for technetism in 2022. I want first to flesh out the remaining areas where I feel it’s weakest, then find like-minded people who would be willing to share in the wisdom I truly believe I’ve stumbled upon. I also plan to finish, edit, and publish The Prison of Ignorance, so that some of this wisdom might outlive me.
The Fourth Work
Last on the list is ICONIC, which didn’t even have a name in the original post. Basically, the idea is to design a method of visual communication that can be sent to, and understood by, a hypothetical extraterrestrial species.
I have a rough sketch of the contents of a primer. First (and the only part I’ve actually written down thus far) is a mathematical introduction, defining symbols for numerals and the basic arithmetic operations. This alone would provide multiple facts about humans: that we are sapient, that we understand mathematics, that we have a positional number system of base 10, and so on.
Next comes a more thorough dive into math. Following that are definitions of chemistry, physics, and biology. All of these are intended to be self-contained and self-sustaining: at any point, a statement must depend only on what has come before. Like many other SETI enthusiasts, I begin with the hard sciences because they are the most universal.
Once I’m done with those, however, it gets much more difficult. I want to draw on my 20+ years of conlang design experience to create a kind of visual lingua franca. By illustrating and defining the concepts most vital to human communication, I believe we can devise a means to “talk” to another advanced species about most topics. It would be very rudimentary conversation in most cases, but that’s a start that most experts in the field don’t even consider possible.
In three months, I’ve made progress on all four of the Great Works. I’m glad I have. I finally feel like I’m doing something again, instead of merely waiting on things to happen. I even have a few side projects on top of these, like On the Stellar Sea, the Noctis OS, and a series of programming tutorials I really want to write.
The darker side of my original post, on the other hand, continues to gnaw at me. I still believe my days are numbered, and that the number is much lower than anyone expects. With each passing week, the world grows closer and closer to an all-out collapse. Forces beyond my control have more power over my life than I do. All along, that has been the source of my depression, and it will continue to affect me as long as I live.
In a sense, the Great Works were meant to substitute for the true life goals I felt were no longer achievable three months ago. They’re a pale imitation, I’ll admit, but they were all I had left. They were intended as a swansong, a last chance to make my mark on a world that couldn’t care less. I would like to believe that’s no longer the case.
But you know me. I’m not a believer. I need proof.
For me, one of the hardest parts of depression to recognize and combat is the feeling that I’m just not good enough. This isn’t quite the same as Impostor Syndrome, which is more the feeling that others think I’m not as good as I claim. No, in this case, I’m the one questioning my ability, my prowess, and my worth.
I have had a few good things happen to me. I can’t deny that. The problem is, I don’t believe I deserve them, so I can’t accept them for what they are. I assume there’s an ulterior motive at work, or that something will happen to knock me back down to where I feel I belong. And the inevitable stumbles only reinforce that belief, proving (in my mind) that I was right all along.
In reality, I’m the CTO of what is potentially a billion-dollar company. My mere presence, according to investors, is worth eight figures. Next week, I’m going to be interviewing someone who may become the newest member of our dev team. In other words, someone who will do nothing but take pressure off of me.
In my mind, I’m a mediocre programmer with no formal training and a wandering mind, whose biggest software release was a recipe book app that racked up 20 sales over three years. No matter what my boss says—or how much he would prefer I call him something other than that—I constantly feel as if I’m one mistake or one missed deadline away from being fired.
In reality, I love and am loved by a woman who has been blessed with seemingly infinite patience. She understands me better than I ever have. She brightens my world, even as she expands it. Just seeing a text from her lifts my spirits and sets me at ease.
In my mind, I wonder how anyone could ever love me, and why, after all I’ve put her through, she hasn’t kicked me to the curb yet. She tells me there’s no one better for her, while I think she could throw a rock from her front door and hit a better man.
At my darkest times, I simply feel that I don’t deserve any of it. The love, the trust, the patience…what have I done to deserve it? Certainly nothing material. My biggest accomplishments of the last ten years in that department are a few novels that almost nobody outside my little circle has ever read, much less enjoyed. Mentally, I know I’m very high on the intelligence scale, but when have I had the chance to use that?
With everything happening in the world and nothing happening in my life, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that my time isn’t running out. I’m 38 years old. Since my birthday three months ago, I’ve often wondered whether I would make it to 40. On the worst days, though, I started wondering whether I wanted to. Whether it was worth going on when I knew in my heart that things weren’t getting any better than they are now. And, even if it was, whether I deserved it.