just some notes.

It takes a village (and a few elders)

March 01, 2020

For too long I have ventured into the unknown, not caring about all the beautiful things I built in the past and then left behind. Those buildings would still be there when I came back, I believed. Maybe they’d need a little checkup, but as long as one of the inhabitants wasn’t screaming that the roof was gone, I was still good. And I… I could continue my adventures into the unknown, building new cities and villages on top of my beautiful intricate infrastructure.

Recently though, complaints about broken things have started to stack up. Every time I go out to build new stuff, one of the villagers calls me back. Telling me I should fix a door, a window or a leaking sink. It leaves us both frustrated, because this must be the sixth time I fixed something in his house.

I have now quit venturing into the new altogether, instead sticking to the structures I have already built. Making them more sturdy, more pretty and using simpler techniques.

The villagers are content with my new dedication to their homes, but always when I walk through the streets I see the elders softly shaking their heads and smiling their sad old smiles. I ignore them. They always have comments about my work… but didn’t I build this very city with my own two hands?

It wasn’t until much later, when I almost burnt myself out chasing ever more complex complaints, that somehow deep inside me something changed. I realized I couldn’t go on this way. There had to be a way to construct my buildings without me constantly having to fear I break an electricity cable somewhere in another part of town. There had to be a measure I could take. A new paradigm to follow.

It was time to seek out the knowledge I had discarded and ignored for so long. It was time to make a change. And when you look for what you need with a genuine want, it will seek you out.

Recalling the comments of my elders, it came to me that I needed to build my structures in ways easy to reason about for everyone. And that meant I couldn’t just throw bricks at it from day one. When I start out with designing the construction of the buildings first, I can write instructions about how to do simple regular checkups on their inner workings. And then I can have the inhabitants themselves regularly check the status of their homes, and directly report to me when a checkup fails. This way a window won’t actually break when I start to mess with the underlying infrastructure or build a brand new home. Because believe me: I have built small little sheds, only to hear of complaints from house owners on the other side of town being without heating.

While with this new way of working the stream of difficult problems hasn’t immediately stopped flowing, I did notice with each passing week that the stream lost some of its strength. Now the problems are of superficial nature, issues I can tend to directly, or sometimes even prevent. Nothing festers under the floorboards anymore. No more twenty roofs flying off into the nightsky.

Now when I walk the streets of my little villages and towns I see the people taking pride in their homes. And the elders… I think I saw one of them give me an approving nod the other day.