A Cautionary Tale?
It's been a funny old week. On Saturday, I had a spat with a Researcher I have a huge amount of time and respect for, and on Sunday spent a wonderful day at the cricket with my brother. Since then, I've been dealing with the fall-out of one, and sharing the joy of the other.
I'm not going to go into any detail about either here – if you care to look, the bones of both are laid out elsewhere – but the contrast between those two days and my feelings about both are interesting and, I think, important.
People talk a lot about work-life balance, and I've come to the conclusion that we should really think about h2g2 in the same terms. h2g2 is something incredibly special, and there are many here who give a huge amount of spare time to it. While that is certainly admirable, it's all too easy to take it too far; to put so much into the h2g2 project that it begins to feel like work, that it becomes a commitment in itself. A few months ago, I was devoting entire days off to catching up with things I'd said I'd do for h2g2, and it started to get a little ridiculous. I loved h2g2 too much to stop, but I began to realise that too much work and no play makes Rich a right tetchy little fella.
I'm not alone in this either. I can think of any number of people who, at various times, have written journals declaring that they just needed a break from the damn place, were chucking in all their badges and would be back in a few months. Some I know have done it two or three times. Most were considered 'leading lights' in their respective fields, and their friends here were invariably shocked to hear that it was all getting a bit too much.
My advice, if I'm in a position to dispense it at all, is that as soon as you feel you have to do something here, don't do it. It's all too easy to feel that you owe the site something, that you're the only one who can drive part of the project on, to take it perhaps just a little too seriously. Be committed, sure; but don't stop enjoying it for a moment. We thrive on enthusiasm here, and that gets sapped very quickly when play becomes work.
I'm lucky enough to have had friends here who were brave enough to tell me (or at least hint strongly) when I'd taken too much on, and I've gradually stripped back my commitments. Now, everything I do here is fun again.
Six months ago, I'd have been 'too busy' to spend that day at the cricket with my brother, quite possibly because I had stuff to catch up on here on h2g2 that I felt I had to do. It was the best day of my life, and we're planning more. For the first time in a year or so, I finally have my h2g2-life balance right, and I'm much more happy and relaxed as a result.
The issue below has largely been put together by the rest of the team, with very little input from me, and they have my humblest gratitude for all their hard work. I'd also like to offer my thanks to Pinniped, who put the latest issue of The Stretcher together at short notice, and my apologies for putting him in a difficult position at a very awkward time. Finally, I understand that our Lil will be back with us any day now, and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that I can't wait to see her back.
Deadline for copy for the next issue is Sunday 7th June, and I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as I will!