Build Stuff and have fun doing it … that pretty much sums up much of my childhood. Looking back, it is the times when I have been creating that have made me the most empowered and motivated. A life of simply being a consumer fills me with dread. It is what we add to this world which gives us our achievements and much fulfilment.
Having fun is in your control
I was born and grew up in (and near) a simple fishing town called Tabaco on the south of the main island (Luzon) in the Philippines. We didn’t have a lot, what we did have was significantly more than most of the people around us but what we all had was imagination.
I remember watching the kids cartoons and wanting to act them out. One of my favourites was Thundercats, when we played I felt like I could do anything. I felt like a superhero.
We’d often visit the toy section in the town’s department store and I would see the plastic swords, I would pick them up and imagine I was Lion-o with the Sword of Omens. Returning home without a toy sword wouldn’t stop me. I’ve carved a few swords out of pieces of spare wood, tied pieces of bamboo together with string, used branches off a tree, it didn’t matter I’d find something, almost anything to be MY sword. I feel proud that our circumstances taught us to be inventive, we learned that the fun was in OUR control and that we could make it out of whatever was around us.
It’s only complex when you don’t know how to break it up
When I was 8 years old, I joined my brother in Manilla. We lived with a number of other kids in a dorm while my parents were working back in Tabaco. One of my favourite memories from this period was watching the over-night security guard build these little huts. I was struck by how intricate and beautiful they were. I never thought I could build something like that. It wasn’t until I was shown that I realised how complicated things are made from simple small steps. When you understand the construction, it gives you the confidence to go further.
Adventure is out THERE
For me being able to ride a bike was like the Black Perl was to Jack Sparrow. We used to go out as a group of kids for hours on end exploring around where our dorm house was. It’s amazing what we found.
One day we met a goat farmer who used to herd his goats on the few small fields near the house. He was an older man who lived a very simple life but taught us a lot about his world and the lives of others we would otherwise struggle to understand.
Another time we found an old abandoned ice-cream van. The mere fact that we could peer in through the side window meant our imagination was sparked. We were determined to see what was inside. We tried the door but it was locked and not going to budge. The window was small and also shut tight. We weren’t defeated, we persevered and were rewarded when we found an open hatch underneath which led into the old, disused compartment inside. I’ve not forgotten the sense of achievement, it was amazing. It has meant I’m now a sucker for a challenge, I want to WIN and have fun in the process.
We used to venture out pretty far, I have kids myself and in many ways it scares me the freedom we were given. Nonetheless one of the most magical discoveries was to be found after a longer ride. A cluster of old disused water towers. They were rusting and had huge cracks running down the sides leading small gaps. I little effort and these were levered open to allow us to camp out for a while inside these giant cylinders. We often returned to play in and around these reminders of time long gone.
The riches of “out there” are enormous. The untapped connections, lessons and fun that is waiting will unlock your inner sense of discovery. And now I look for these opportunities every day, in the people I work with, in small conversations and wherever I might go.
It’s experiences like these which form the basis of my mission to see every frontend developer live inspired and creative. Every developer has a child’s passion inside of them, imagine the opportunities in front of us if we can unlock it.