30 Jun 2020
The lockdown in India started on March 24th. It's been three months and has been a challenging experience for me. I have been home since mid February, post my first surgery. While recovering, I had ample time to think about the road ahead, what's working and what is not in my professional life. My mind was buzzing on most days. Some days I would be aware of my thoughts, and the other days it would be a downward spiral. Having so much time to think can sometimes be detrimental, and I often forced it to steer to a better place. By the way, Coders by Clive Thompson is a great book if you want to understand programmers/ coders/ developers (whatever you want to call them).
Over the last year, I did feel I was treading upstream. I was managing Brightpod (it is self-running and does not require a lot of attention), but I wasn't doing anything new. I didn't know if I wanted to start another product, write another book or work with different companies to get their tech stacks in order. I felt I was not producing anything! One afternoon, I read Ikigai and thought about what's going on—I used to be very passionate about what I did so why was I confused?
After my second surgery three weeks ago, I spent a few more days thinking about what excited me when I was out of college and starting my career in software development (circa 2000). I think I have done what I could have with Brightpod in a crowded marketplace. Now, my mind keeps nudging me to do more. Maybe, even find a new home for Brightpod.
Programming is a way to express yourself.
I took myself to where it all started.
Back in 2000, I was a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill as a computer science student. Outside of class, and on weekends, I would code and constantly learn new things. I would sample code, create random side projects or help out on dev forums. While at school, my custom flash-based website got me a fantastic part-time coding gig with a neuroscience professor at the nearby Duke University.
In software, the joy of building something out of nothing is what excited me. Even when I got a job with an e-healthcare company, I was developing online services while living in the ‘terminal’ and "IDE" :) I enjoyed solving problems. I loved writing code and being in the zone. It felt like meditation.
After I moved back to India in 2005, I caught the entrepreneur's bug and started a web design and development company. I would still write software and design websites, but my goal was to build a team to do it so that I could be the ‘chief trailblazer’.
In 2007, I effectively stopped writing software and built a team to do the same—I decided to steer the ship instead. I am so grateful that I experienced this journey. It came with different highs of being featured in various publications, being interviewed and invited to speaking engagements. Oh, and not to mention being an author. Do I regret that decision? No. I had to experience being a CEO to know what I love doing. As they say, the journey is more important than the end goal.
In March of this year, I realised that I would take being homebound as a way to dive back into code and to see if I still enjoy doing it. I want to see where this takes me, rediscover the part of me that feels connected to self. I started learning Flutter. Then, in April, I dived into Swift programming. After my second surgery in early June, I plunged into Eleventy & Tailwind CSS - my personal goal was to move this blog from Squarespace to here (Eleventy, Tailwind CSS on Netlify). I ran git commands, learned about NPM, build process, cloned repositories (to see how others have done something similar), understood some Nunjucks, interacted with a few developers on Twitter and just soaked up a lot of stuff to get this blog going. I got the feeling of being left out of so much that has happened in the front-end stack.
Last week, I bought sahilparikh.dev (to firm up my decision on going on this path) and moving all my posts here.
What I am feeling right now is a deep sense of satisfaction when I am ‘in code’. It feels like going downstream. I wake up early to get started, and time flies by. Other than that, I am going to use this personal blog as a playground to write and try out new things for the next few months. Who knows where this journey will take me, but I am keeping an open mind and just doing what I used to love.
Do more of what makes you happy. Everything else will fall into place.