When you work in tech, you are forced to be humble. Much of the work that you do, whether its code you’ve written or landing pages you’ve designed, are iterated into oblivion. I find that I should never fall in love with my work because it will cease to exist within weeks, maybe months. Requirements change, coworkers refactor, brand guidelines evolve.
This is something I grapple with often in my professional life. I find it discouraging that much of what I create is so transient. My work can feel like it lacks meaning because it’s impact is directly affected by it’s inevitably short lifespan.
Working with your hands to create something brings you in touch with your physical environment in ways that you often forget about when all of your work takes place on the screen and in the cloud. You can feel, smell, and hear your hard work — maybe even taste it if your craft of choice is in the kitchen (mine definitely isn’t!). When you create something with your hands, you know that your work isn’t going anywhere. It’s not getting overwritten with the next deploy. It’s there for you to hold and share with others. It’s permanent. And there is comfort in that knowledge.
My crafting hobbies help me stay grounded when my digital work makes me feel detached and distant. I find tangible projects fulfilling when most of what I create doesn’t exist in the physical world. While software design patterns are beautiful, they are abstract and inaccessible. What good is that beauty if you can’t share it with those around you?
Some may argue that beauty does not equal meaning. And I can definitely see the logic in that argument. Where is the meaning in another cute winter hat? But that hat isn’t going anywhere. The blanket I made for my nephew with all of his favorite things (a cow, a horse, a baseball, a skid loader, a tractor, and Mike Wazowski)? He’ll have that forever. That is beautiful, and there is meaning in that.