Wasting Time, Wanting Time

Aug 30

For approximately five weeks I've been spending my weekends with my car. My car is 2001 Subaru Outback with about 200,000 miles on it. That's not a huge amount of mileage, but I don't treat my car all that well, so it's a bit of a mess.

The initial plan was to pull the engine and put in new head gaskets and valve cover gaskets. This seems pretty crazy, but my dad has a garage with a two post car lift, and a engine hoist, and an engine mount, so it really shouldn't have taken the three weekends that it took to do this job.

But it did.

And in the meantime, we managed to burn the transmission fluid and burn the transmission itself. So now that's been on the fritz for a couple of weeks, needing new fluid, needing conditioner, and at this point, needing to be replaced.

So the plan is to ship out there next weekend and replace the transmission.

But I have to ask myself… if I had spend those weekends, the 50 hours of driving, for example, just mucking around with a language or framework, not even seriously, what would I have learned? Do I have the time to spend fixing an old car?

It isn't that the time is wasted. For one thing, it's fun to hang out with my dad and my brother and wrench. For another, I like knowing stuff about the car I'm driving, and at this point I know more about it then any reasonable person would want to know.

And I like the drive, frankly. I don't know why I like the drive, but I do. It's time to sort of drift along. And my kids love visiting their cousins. Everybody has a good time.

So this isn't about what makes me happy, it's about whether I have the time to be happy about this thing. Because learning and coding also make me happy, and while I spend a lot of time doing these things already, it's at work. Work has constraints on what should be learned.

I realized today that I've been on the Elixir train for a couple of years, but I still don't really know Elixir. I can hack around in it, I can build simple things, but I don't grok it deep in my bones. And I've had the time to learn it, I should be ahead of everyone else. But instead, the world is catching up and passing me.

Which I guess is where the time thing comes in. My career isn't, maybe, where I want it to be. But having my career be where I want it to be… would that make me happy? Or would that be the time I'm wasting?

It would be great if there were two of me so I could run this experiment in parallel, have one of me go down one path and another down another and then pick the one that looks better. This whole linear time thing definitely harshes my mellow.