Maybe it’s the fatigue catching up to me, or maybe it’s the rain. Toronto’s Pearson airport holds a melencholy for me today. I guess there’s always a current of sadness in an airport. Jetlagged, harrassed businessmen, secretly lonely and vulnerable. Lost looks on the faces of foreigners far from hom and familiarity. Infrequent travelers, baffled and battered by the impersonal rituals of baggage, customs, security. And the goodbyes. Every person who steps down the jetway is saying goodbye to someone, or something.
By rights I should be inspired and fired up to write some badass software that will change the world. At least, that’s how fellow attendees I spoke with before I left felt. It was by any measure one of the ass-kickingest technical conferences ever conceived and executed. I ought to be feverishly banging out code.
But I can’t bring myself to open up any of my projects. Contrary to all logic code holds no attraction.
Toward the end of the conference I couldn’t escape a sense of something missing. At some point RubyFringe, with its noncommercialness, indy nature, community focus, late-night parties, and in the unparalleled passion of its attendees, had started to subliminially remind me of various decidedly nontechnical events I’ve been to. Retreats. Music festivals. At those events I would have been giving people long, teary hugs goodbye before I left. But RubyFringe was, after all, a professional conference — you don’t DO that sort of thing. When you get right down to it we’re all just business colleagues.
It left me with a sense of cognitive or emotional dissonance. I just spent three days of intense human interaction but without touching anyone beyond a handshake. I guess it just underscores how unsuited I am to the traditional business world. I can fake it for a while, sure. But I reach a point where I lose interest in the technical aspects and I just want to start telling these talented people that they are amazing and beautiful and I hope they succeed beyond their wildest dreams; wanting to hug the uncertain college students and tell them don’t worry, it’ll all work out; wanting to give fuzzy pink bunnies to the hardened industry cynics; wanting to camp out in a little knot the middle of the floor and talk about what really moves us, what we dream about and how we’d like to change the world. At heart I’m a softie and a hippie and a lover, and I just can’t partition myself for long.