Ther’s a cool experiment called Rat Park. In this experiment, rats are addicted to drugs and then put into Rat Park, a happy place where they have access to all the things that are good in life for rats – food, shelter, stimulating activity and the opportunity to have a mate and raise pups. The rats can use drugs or they can live fully in Rat Park. They always choose the Park.
There’s a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi whose main work is the concept of Flow. He happened to be the keynote speaker at a UX conference I went to a few years ago. At the time I couldn’t understand why the keynote was about a psychological concept and he was an incredibly dull speaker. Except of course that the concept of Flow is so compelling that years later it’s really all I can remember about the conference itself.
For four weeks, through most of October, I was kept by circumstance from working on any technical problems or tasks. In fact, I was kept from working on any one thing for more than a few minutes at a time. In other words, October was hell. Not to be overly dramatic but I have trouble expressing the depth of the frustration I experienced during this time. Had there not been an end in sight I would have been working on my resume.
Finally this week I have been able to spend large amounts of uninterrupted time working on a technical problem – in this case, the problem of fully separating WordPress core updates out from our standard CI / CD process. This means working with Bamboo, which is always good times.
for a little while this morning everything i ran in bamboo looked like it was running on windows instead of linux. um. — Lisa Linn Allen (@LisaLinnAllen) November 4, 2015
and now stuff that wasn’t working at all before that is working for no reason? it’s like the weather, just wait and it’ll change.. — Lisa Linn Allen (@LisaLinnAllen) November 4, 2015
But really, it is good times, because I’m immersed in solving the problem. It dawned on me this week that what I really, probably, missed was the experience of flow.
The Rat Park experiment was floating through my head because of a conversation we had at our dev team meeting about how great hydrocodone is. Like, too great. One of the things that kept me away from work was being sick, and I have a hydrocodone prescription at the moment as a result. And it’s great, but honestly, it’s not as great as spending all day figuring something out.