Due to the struggles of 2022, and the particular effort to get back to “normal” operations, I ended up working right through most of our annual shutdown period, when I should have been relaxing and unwinding in preparation for a strong start in the new year.
I emerged from this burnout risk directly into the anniversary of my wife’s tragic death (4 years ago), which has a way of negatively affecting mood and productivity long before one consciously realizes that the date is approaching.
Having already cleared my schedule, rather than pushing on an internal project, I chose to use the next couple of weeks to regroup, which was only partially successful. This “break” segued into necessary preparations for a quasi-vacation, previously scheduled.
I was then out of office, and even mostly out of the country, for the rest of January, returning with a case of “cruise crud”. Once that was shaken I was ready to get back to development, but I did not have a suitable period of time to catch up with my backlog (which I also underestimated).
February 6th was the first day officially back in the office, and I immediately set to work clearing the backlog of messages and responsibilities that had accrued in my absence. It took me the rest of the work week to get everything caught up, so I decided to return to proper routine and take time to reset over the weekend.
On February 13th, I started the day enthusiastically programming (finally!) and made great progress. I reached a good “stopping point” in the afternoon and switched over to some operational matters. I was wrapping up customer support (and had gotten to the part where I was just interacting with my friends/customers online) when I heard loads of emergency sirens, and then some police vehicles sped by (~25 yards/meters from my office window) with full lights and sirens blaring.
It was shortly after that point that I got a message that there was an active shooter on the Michigan State University campus. While I was looking for more information, a “shelter in place” order was issued (definitely including my location), and I learned that multiple people had been shot just a half mile South from here.
I spent the rest of that night taking cover, trying to get information about what was happening, and worrying about family. When it was confirmed that there had been a lone gunman and that he had killed himself (like the coward he was), the “shelter in place” order was lifted, and while we all collectively tried to catch our breath, I learned that the gunman was a nearby neighbor of my grandchild and child-in-law.
When all was said and done, 3 people had been killed, and 5 more were in critical condition with gunshot wounds. While, in retrospect, I was never actually in danger, there were numerous alternative scenarios in which family, friends, and even I, could have been in the firing line. Frankly, I have been far more shaken by this event than I would have imagined.
So… 2019 was the year I had to deal with the sudden and unexpected death of my wife (and business partner), 2020 was the year of the global pandemic, 2021 was the year where a friend and client very nearly died, and 2022 was the year where my personal life was in upheaval (and my stepfather died); I will be damned if 2023 is going to be defined by this mass shooting.
I ended up taking the rest of the week off from development, not entirely by choice, so at this point we are in the second half of February with little development progress to show. Therefore, I declare that the first seven weeks of 2023 are a mulligan. I will spend the next 10 days on planning, organization, and regaining development momentum, and then, like the Ancient Romans, I will start 2023 in earnest on March 1st.