I "return to work" next week after two months of "time off."
It's been an interesting two months of being disconnected from something I'd poured everything I had into for five and a half years, with only a couple of notable chunks of time off during that span.
I didn't feel like I actually adjusted to being out of the office until about the fourth week. It's hard to explain. When I left to start the break I completely walked away from work related stuff. I stopped checking email outright. I removed my work calendar from my calendars. I stopped taking meetings for the most part. I put the brakes on everything really... right out of the gate. Yet, my mind kept going. Not necessarily on Gnip stuff, but on non-"vacation" stuff. I think part of it was the fact that Gnip has been my baby for so long and that I'm heavily invested in it. I think part of it was simple entrepreneurial spirit and headspace. There are so many people working on so many interesting things out there; I love being engaged in that.
About a month in my mind and body adjusted to something new. I didn't have overbearing business commitments staring at me every morning through calendar eyes. My assistant and I had cleanly broken our synchronized rhythm and became out of touch. On a day to day basis, I realized I wasn't connected to Gnip. It took while to realize that.
Then I had a couple of weeks of complete "time off." A couple of weeks of true mind drift. That was really cool. By week six, work things started bleeding back into my life. Small things. Big things. I'd been able to compartmentalize them until today. Today, a few days before fully jumping back in, the responsibility, the scheduling goop, the challenges that make up getting-shit-done sidled up next to me and said "I'm here. Are you ready?"
I did a lot of personal travel during the past two months. I had amazing life experiences with my kids on a few trips. We travel so well together. I really enjoy those trips. I enjoy showing them the world and its magnitude and culture and ways of doing.
I loved the chunk of time I took off. I didn't have any epiphanies as a result of it though. I am vowing to make some time prioritization changes in how my work and personal lives harmonize, but, I'm not setting myself up for failure and setting unreasonable expectations with myself, my wife, or my work. I am who I am and that is someone who is deeply engaged and interested in the challenges around building great software that has large-scale impact on the world in some way.
Software is my way of life, and that just is. Software is an ecosystem of technology, people, writers, customers, partners, readers, builders, users, sockets, pain, relief, community, comfort, discomfort, randomness, bullshit, bliss, and love for me. My role within it is fluid; always has been, always will be.
I'm reminded of something a friend told me a few months into my first job out of college as a network stack engineer at Netscape (client-side). He said something that didn't make sense to me until years later. It was something like "The only thing that matters now is the URL." He was making a statement like "Plastics son. It's all in plastics. They'll change everything." I've loved the life I've been able to lead ever since understanding that statement. The Network and the software built on it makes for an amazing way of life.
Gnip continues to "crush it." We have an awesome team building awesome software for awesome customers. We also have awesome (the positive energetic meaning, as well as the "big" meaning of the word) challenges in front of us. We have some core products solving some big challenges for the industry, but there is always the "next big thing" to build to ensure the ball keeps moving up the hill. I'm grateful and excited about jumping back in and contributing to that.