Hope through Feelings of Hopelessness

The beautiful Jessia Hime in a particularly down moment; © 2008 Jessia Hime; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I’ve been updating my software-development résumé, trying some different things in hopes of finding a reasonably productive SD gig. Along the way, I think I may rub a few people wrong, but I think it’s for the best. Because it’s the only way I know to ultimately accomplish my goals.

There’s something about the truly great accomplishments in my life that sets them apart from all the others: they were preceded by devastatingly tough times. One such accomplishment, of course, was meeting my wife Margaret. Before that, I dated girls who were bound to cause me heartbreak; I pursued girls that were bound to make me miserable; when I did meet a nice girl who could make me happy, I was sure to sabotage it (or ignore her). I spent 10 years in heartache after heartache, depression after depression.

But as many times as I swore off girls forever, I continued to play the sucker for the next pretty face that came along. Why? Because there’s an instinctive drive, deep in the heart of a man, that compels him to love a woman. Time and again, that drive forced me on and kept me trying again and again, until I found something that worked.

When the answer finally came, it was so simple, I wondered why I hadn’t discovered it before.

I have a feeling life is like that. You have to fail a few times, or a few dozen times, before you find the simple formula that works.

I was a software developer when I met Margaret in 1992, and I’ve been developing software for most of the years we’ve been together. After 20-something years of experience, the software-development industry has earned in me a certain amount of disgust. So the prospect of working as a software developer again rightly makes me wretch.

But the truth is that designing software is an enjoyable and creative endeavor, and one that I do damn well. I spent 14 years with a very special company, who developed electronic musical instruments, and I designed embedded software therefor. They were special, because so much of what the software industry does so wrong, they did right. It was fun to work there, as though we were a family. It was the fairy-tale job of TV-show heroes. It was like working for Captain Picard’s crew, or for Cage & Fish. I loved it there.

And after the company got bought out and laid off most of the staff, the crash of reality. I’ve never completely recovered.

Actually, I did spend many numerous hours, a couple years ago, working with a virtual team, as subcontractors for a large company. That was an enjoyable project to work on, not because of the project or the technology or the code or the company, but because of the people I was working with. We actually proved, through success, that it is possible to make a virtual software development team work, and what is needed to make it work.

But that was the exception that proves the rule. Why should I want to go back to full-time software development, when my colleagues assault me on every side with their own stories of horror?

And yet, because of the money situation, I fear I may have to pick up a software-development gig, even for just a few months, because it pays so much better than writing does for me right now. And if I pick up the wrong SD gig, it may kill me. (Whether or not that is hyperbole I will leave to your interpretation.)

This is the feeling of utter hopelessness that accompanies a severe depression. The feeling of being backed up into a corner, your life falling apart around you, no options, just misery, and the longing to curl up in bed at night and quietly never to wake up again.

And yet I know that the hopelessness is temporary, because 16 years ago, I found the secret of love, and I got Margaret.

And so I know if I try something a little different, maybe I’ll find that perfect software-development gig. Or maybe I’ll find the secret to making my writing profitable enough. I’m a good enough writer, because I’ve already overcome that hurdle; I’m sure of it. But as always, the challenge is the Big M: marketing.

Even as I write now, I continue to learn more and more about marketing, and specifically the kind of marketing that will help me, both in writing and in software development. If I try enough different tacks, I’ll finally hit on one that will sell my books. And probably quickly and easily. I know that if I try enough different résumé and interview tactics, that I’ll finally find one that will land me the right SD gig. Whatever the goal, wherever the hopelessness, I know that if I persist, I will succeed. And that, friend, is hope.

Here’s to hope…