My focus has been all over the place lately. A couple weeks ago, I got back into Minecraft. I’ve played since its very first release, when I was in college, and since then, my interest in it has been tidal, waxing and waning but never fully disappearing. It really is quite a good game–there are so many satisfying behavioral “loops” that bring me back.

I also installed Minetest, because hey, I like the idea of supporting open-culture projects. Buuuuut, I’ve been having so much fun with the richness and depth of Minecraft’s existing content that I’m concerned Minetest will just feel like an off-brand knockoff. I should give it a fair shake, and maybe I will at some point… but right now, when I want to play a voxel-based survival/building game, I can either play the very familiar Minecraft, or I can fire up the novel Minetest and try to learn the new (and less polished) ins-and-outs of that game. One option sounds like work when I want to be playing.

And that kinda speaks to where my mind is at right now. I had a big surge of task-focused energy a couple weeks ago, when I built my garden beds and did a bunch of interior household tasks. Now, I find myself retreating a lot more. I spent the last weekend playing Minecraft and Kingdom of Loathing and sitting on the couch with Rachel, watching several episodes of Mindhunter in a row. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it’s not quite where I want to be. It felt good to make progress on things that mattered to me.

If I think about it, I’ve found myself in the same place with a lot of my projects right now. I’ve burned through a lot of the easy stuff: replacing cabinet hardware, upgrading my computer, buying an inkjet printer, building garden beds, purchasing the hardware for my Friendica instance. And with the easy stuff out of the way, I’m now facing the actual work–a lot of which I feel unequipped to handle and which I feel less capable of steering away from failure. So I’m facing a mountain of perceived snags, like:

  • Can I transplant my plant starts without killing them? How do I transplant my plant starts?
  • How are we going to organize our third garden bed, especially since bed #2’s carefully plotted layout got disrupted?
  • Have I failed at starting seeds because all my starts are leggy instead of stout?
  • What is causing my computer to run out of memory every day or two?
  • How do I get my damn printers to work with my computer?
  • How do I set up a shared music server for my wife and myself that minimizes data duplication while maximizing accessibility?
  • Will we ever be able to afford all the electrical work in this house that I want done? Is that prudent?
  • Is it responsible to have several computers running in this house if the outlets are ungrounded (and I therefore can’t use surge protectors)?
  • I should really start backing up my data–but what should I back up? How? Where? And how do I do that with multiple computers?
  • Did I properly duplicate data from my laptop when I moved to my desktop last year? Is it all moved?
  • Relatedly, do I have unnecessarily duplicated data? What is safe to delete?
  • How can I make all emoji appear in color on my desktop instead of some being in color and others rendered in black and white?
  • What can I remove from my old laptop to make it faster?
  • How can I write this blog post about the value of “magic” and ritual in a way I’m proud of?
  • What roles do Scuttlebutt, my Friendica server, and my blog play in my online presence? How do I want to use them?
  • Why the heck is my blog stripping the authorization headers and preventing me from using the IndieAuth plugin?
  • How do I decouple my WordPress installation from the LDAP plugin it uses so that I don’t get login errors every time I update the package?
  • How can I make (or commission) a little 3D-printable case for the Iron Clays poker chips I have sitting on my desk?

I could go on… but I recognize this is interesting to nobody but me. 😜 As I see it, though, the common thread is that all of these next steps require work. They require me to research and make decisions and try things. There’s not an easy answer, just hard work.

And hard work is harder when it feels like it’s all on my shoulders. Rachel doesn’t understand my server projects or my computer issues–this is not a slight, it’s just not where her interests or knowledge lie. The vast majority of this feels like solitary work, at least right now, and that just makes it ten times harder. I wish I could invite people to my house to look over my shoulder and guide me, or even just to sit in solidarity with me.

Because work that’s shared always feels easier. I grew up with a large extended family, and several times a year, we’d converge on my grandparents’ house for work parties. We’d spend all day trimming branches and hauling debris and planting gardens. It was work, yes, but it was social, too. It was shared.

Maybe I need to find some creative ways to make my tasks a bit more social–even if I’m still the only one doing the work. I’ve reflected before that the work of building a stronger, compassionate, anti-fascist world feels impossibly daunting (and anxiety-provoking) when I see it as a task I have to figure out on my own, but like Good (and Achievable) Work when I see it as a project to be distributed and shared. Perhaps that thinking extends beyond political work.

And maybe, when I don’t see these tasks as burdens I have to bear on my own, I won’t feel the need to escape to digital voxel worlds.

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