I guess it's that time for me to rant about the same things I've ranted about before. Namely that I'm lost in life and don't know what to do.
I want to be happy. Not even sure what that means. I also want money, not for the purpose of being rich but for the purpose of freedom. I haven't worked in 5 years now. I quit my job in June 2013 and it's now June 2018. I had no intention of having no job this long. I thought I'd get some inspiration within 6 months of quiting and be off doing something amazing.
Instead I'm alone and isolated with no direction. I have no idea what I want to do anymore and I maybe have slightly conflicting goals. I feel somewhat spoiled rotten having worked at Google for 5 years. I'm sure I said this previously but working at Google allowed me to attend conferences, give talks, take off 5 weeks a year, work from remote offices all over the world, work at home when I want, and get paid crazy money. The crazy money let me have these 5 years off and travel etc and of course when people find out they are jealous or envious.
And, hearing that just makes me feel sooo stupid. From my POV I've nearly completely wasted the last 5 years. I have almost nothing to show for it. It's partly because it wasn't the plan. If I had said to myself "I'm going to take off 5 years and do X, Y, and Z" where X, Y, and Z where concrete things (travel to X, learn Y, etc) I probably would have done X, Y, and Z but instead my plan has always been, "figure out someting to do and do it ASAP". and that frame has some how encouraged me to do nothing.
In a "I'm hope I'm not really that lame" defensive mode, of course there were tiny personal projects. happyfuntimes sucked up about 14 months here and there. vertexshaderart sucked up maybe a 6 weeks on and off. mopho-v probably ate 2 months. But most of those seem like a distraction. I guess HFT was not but the others seem like procrastination from actually making a decision.
There have also been a list of things I've avoided doing because when I think about them they also seem like distractions. For example I have a list of 30 or so WebGL articles I thought about writing but whenever I get the itch to start I remind myself that I'm just putting off more important stuff. Heck, writing this blog post is probably another form of procastination.
The freedom that money brings (or brought) is one reason why it's hard to go back to anything that pays significantly less. Espeically given that I'll be 53 soon I have supposedly 12 years to save for retirement and I'm not ready at all. So I can try to go back to one of the big high paying Silicon Valley companies and save for retirement or I can choose something else and not be sure I'll have enough to retire.
People often say "choose happiness over money" and I mostly agree with the sentiment but on closer inspection it's not that simple. What are we really choosing between? I can't say working on games makes me as happy as it used to, at least at the moment so choosing to get paid X/6 instead of X for a job that doesn't make me any more happy doesn't seem like I'm really choosing happiness.
Sometimes it crosses my mind to work at some small indie company as it sounds fun to be in a small tight knit group but most of the time that really means getting paid 5-20% of what I can make in SV and working to make my boss rich, effectively giving him my life in exchange for a small salary. That hardly seems like a fair trade or happiness.
If there was some indie group to join where we shared the profits that might be more appealing but then we're into the current reality which is that there are too many games and it's super hard to make a hit the odds are so low that our game will make it's money back.
I've mentioned this before but I'm also not sure how much I like games anymore. I absolutely loved Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I probably spent 120hrs playing. I also loved the new God of War for PS4 and spent 20-25hrs but both of those are giant team games and being one of the 400 people that made them is not appealing.
Lately the biggest issue I think is the isolation. I'm alone most days. 4-6 days a week I see no one, well, no friends. I might go to the cafe or coffee shop but I don't talk to anyone. So that's the #1 thing that needs to be fixed but I have no idea how to fix it. Do I get an office and hire people with the major goal of just being in a office with those people? Where do I find them? Should I join an indie studio solely to have comrades even if it means I won't make enough money to retire?
Where do I meet these people and how to I work to turn them from people I don't know with people I'm working with at some office where we can share the comradre that makes working fun? I do try to go to 1 to 2 meetups a week but so far I haven't hit it off with anyone to make any new hangout buddies.
I saw an amazing talk recently
It's by Laralyn McWilliams who is a game designer that also faught and is fighting cancer and her search to keep going. Of course I don't have cancer (knock on wood) but there was still lots of good adivce.
I think the one that stuck out the most is that "creativity is a habit". She pointed out that going into work everyday and creating stuff is a habit and that when you get out of that habit it's hard to be creative. She mentioned that during her cancer treatment you can go for months without eating directly and that the doctors told her she needed to swallow some water or anything every day because if she didn't her body could forget how to swallow!!! It sounds incredible but apparently it's a real thing. She pointed out if you can forget how to swallow because it's a habit you can forget how to do pretty much anything. In her case that was how to be creative from not doing it for 8-9 months.
Another point she made was that "it's not you". The habit thing points out that being in the habit of being creative keeps you creative. It's not that you are no longer creative it's that you stopped the habit. You stopped being at the office with others spending a few hours a day bouncing ideas off each other and actually creating.
Well yea, that certainly fits me. Not only have I not been at the office for 5 years. I haven't been in a really creative habit like position for 10 years. Since I started at Google. That's probably not fair as much of the programming work I did (and everyone does) is in and of itself semi creative. You're creating new code that didn't exist before. But, the act of making something "art" creative, like a game, and bouncing game design ideas around is something that I've gotten further and further away from over the years.
Anyway, I don't know where I'm going with this. Like many of my blog posts in the last few years I'm probably writing this more for myself than anyone that's reading this.
Still, I have no clue. I've also mentioned how hard it is to decide. If someone said "here's $40 million, take as long as you want and make your dream game" I might do it. Since that is unlikely to happen though then at almost 53 I feel like I basically get to pick one more thing. Pick well and I might live happily ever after. Pick poorly and I'll be struggling for years to come with no way to recover. This comes up especially talking to younger people who still have time to recover from their mistakes. They aren't at an age in their life where they can see the doors closing. Maybe that's a bad attitude but I'm not sure how to avoid what feels like my reality.
I've thought about talking to a counsellor or therapist or life coach but it turns out those don't really exist in Japan. It tried some online one about a year ago but it was horrible. I wrote a a few paragraphs and effectively got back a short one sentence generic reply. Wrote some more and again got a once sentence generic reply. Maybe it was just the bad roll of the dice and I should try again but it was seriously bad.
Another issue that keeps coming up is why am I in Japan. Of course I love parts of it but I hate other parts. With Japan's popuation supposed to tank (down 30% in the next 40 years) Japan could be the next Detroit. I don't think I'll ever be close to fluent. This is another one of those bad or unfortunate planning things where if I'd known I wouldn't find the thing I want to do for the last 2 years I would have (and did) consider going back to Japanese school full time. I didn't do that because I figured that would put my mind on learning Japanese and not on figuring out my career/life. Now though 2 years since I got my visa and have been officially living in Japan and I didn't make any progress on the life/career thing so that 2 years is just gone.
Maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere that should just do whatever is in front of me and ignore the future?
That brings up an interesting topic (which I probably wrote before) but sometimes I feel like I stepped out of reality. By that I mean it feels like most people or most of the people I know need a job and they generally do whatever job happens to fall in their lap. Their life is mostly driven by the opportunities that present themselves, not by their direct decisions. That certainly describes my life in many ways. Sure I wanted to make video games as a kid but the majority of my jobs came from random luck vs me actively knowing what I want and seeking it out. My impression is that's what happens to the majority of people. But, I got this chance to step out of that and I'm completely failing to take advantage of my chance to change that and actually choose my own path.
Is it all just excuses? I make the excuse I don't have access to $40 million so I can't just make my dream game (just an example). I can make the excuse that I don't have retirement money so therefore I have to choose somethign that will earn me that and therefore there's a host fo things I can't choose. I can make the excuse that I don't even know what I really want to do anymore and therefore have no way to choose.
I think a life coach would just say pick a direction, regardless, and go! Step in and commit to something and just see where it leads. That's probably good imaginary advice.
But, as soon as I try to force a direction I run into perceived roadblocks or maybe rather I run into things I'm unfamilar with and therefore they make me uncomfortable?
For example last summer as I was getting my visa renewed I told myself I was going to rent an office. My thinking was having a place to go to work each day would give me the habit I mentioned above. I looked around but the more I thought about it the more I thought that hanging out at an office all by myself would be even more isolating than sitting at a cafe. I also couldn't really see how to get more people in that office short of hiring them. I could rent a large office and try to make it a collective or a co-working space but didn't have the confidence I'd find people and prices in Tokyo are high so an office big enough to share is probably $50k+ a year in rent?
So, I talked myself out of it. But, that just puts me back at not doing anything and not even knowing what I want to do.