Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo - Bertone, 1968
I picked up a new addition to my daily affirmation from book The Obstacle is the Way: Rejoice in every circumstance and persevere.
It’s too easy to assimilate the awesomeness of your life into the ho-hum of the everyday. The mind seems to gravitate to the negative, no matter how many positive elements exist in your life.
As a self-employed Canadian living in Toronto, I have boundless luck on my side. And yet I still complain on a daily basis. Yes, the traffic sucks and yes, I could be making more money. But when I look at the big picture, it’s laughable to complain about anything, anytime.
We have very little control over our destiny. We have full control over our thoughts and actions. But the funny thing is, our thoughts and actions tend to shape our destiny.
Don’t listen to the negative voice in your head - that’s not you. Be grateful and rejoice in every circumstance. Manifest your abundance of luck into infinite happiness.
Last Tuesday, we set off for an overdue visit with our customer in Boston - my first ever field project.
The mission of the trip was to complete three primary objectives. Once complete, we could collect our final payment - a task that has been on my todo list since I joined in January. That would be 7 months ago. It was critical that we walked out of there with the objectives complete. It was a lot of money.
Following a safety training, we arrived on site and were handed our branded glowing vests - the mark of an employee or contractor. I tossed the vest on, pushed closed the velcro seam, and I was an instant official.
I was impressed to see our communications-based train control (CBTC) system in action. It’s one thing to watch boxes lurching around a loop on a diagnostics screen from miles away - it’s quite another to sit in the operator’s seat and experience the real-world perspective.
We knocked the first item off the list within an hour. Our Chief Engineer, our new Product Manager and myself had instant chemistry and we were off to a cracking start.
The second day, we went out for a spin - just the three of us and a couple of customer officials on an ‘out of service’ trolley - my first trip around the loop and first exposure to our systems along the way.
Again, I was impressed that our small company was able to design, develop and install the electronics and communications that enforce the movement of trains.
We came back to the station and finished our objectives, enjoying the reverence of the transit riders as we strutted around and the delight on the customers’ faces when each task was completed.
At the end of two exhausting days, we had completed our tasks. I felt a sense of accomplishment that you don’t get from uploading files to a server. Passing tools around and hot swapping boards on a running train to help these passengers ride safely gave me a feeling of purpose.
We are making a difference.
Gustavo Torres is a 36 year old Argentinian GIF artist. He began making art around the age of three due to having parents who are designers and musicians. He is inspired by the fact that art is one of the few things in the world you can use to express whatever you feel and want. He posts his art on Tumblr as kidmograph.
Today we are shipping an order overseas. It’s the first railway deal that I’ve seen through from inception to shipment since joining Argenia.
As is often the case with a small company, getting the product out the door on time required all hands on deck. It was the first time in my career that my hands were actually used to assist in building a physical product.
Having spent 11 years sitting at a computer, it is liberating to literally get my hands dirty. Don’t get my wrong, I love the clackity-clack of my keyboard and I’m a knowledge worker to the core. But a unique sense of satisfaction comes from examining the precise cuts on a freshly milled box or seeing LEDs light up when software breaths life into hardware for the first time.
Putting in extra hours and working on weekends to get something done is draining. But seeing the fruits of your labors in shimmering physical form is gratifying in a way that compiled software will never be. Maybe because when it’s done it’s done. Or maybe because it’s more real since you can touch it.
Whatever the case, I’m happy to discover that working with your hands is good for the soul.