The Importance of a Calm Life

Lesley Cheung
3 min readDec 25, 2020

It’s perhaps easy to measure how many times we meet up with our friends every week. It’s much more difficult to notice the anxiety that builds up over the process. We don’t pay attention to the real cost of hectic weeks; we don’t calculate the impact of another family gathering can have on our levels of calm and clear-headedness or the negative impact it can have on the relationships that matter to us most. We forget how un-motivating every encounter with a false friend can be, and how tiring it can be to make small talk for a few hours.

Simple days, on the other hand, can be extremely fruitful and fulfilling. A quiet and perfect day might start early; we might wake up before anyone else does and have a cup of coffee, watching the sky change shades. We might spend part of the morning organizing our desktop folders and our repositories; we are finally bringing harmony to our workspaces.
In the afternoon, we might take a walk by ourselves. When we are busy, we forget to process what’s on the back of our minds. Now, we start to really think: What prevents me from starting the project that I really want to work on? How do I become more patient with my code? What habits might I need to work on, and which ones might I need to re-evaluate? What was really nice about pair programming? What is really important here?

There is true bravery in leading a calm and simple life: we are constantly reminded of the glamour in other jobs: there’s an article about a high flying business entrepreneur; their pictures are on instagram; their parties and posts on Facebook. It can sometimes seems like their entirely life is immensely glamourous.

Our own days may not be quite as, on the surface, exciting. If we haven’t made the code work, it’s only because we haven’t tried hard enough — the only solution is to keep pushing ourselves and to put more into our schedule. But instead of feeling at peace with our busy lives, we feel more anxious and nervous — our annoyance is reflected in our impatience; our anger and pity is turned into ever more appointments, and our growing depression and sadness will, we tell ourselves, disappear, once we’ve made it.

But there is beauty in maintaining calm relationships with the people in our lives; ensuring that we keep the deadlines that we have; completing not very exciting code or implementing tests cheerfully; working well with others and in most importantly, keeping going in coding, even when it feels difficult.
We have probably already experienced enough for a couple of lifetimes. We have met enough exciting people, attended enough parties, ate at the hippest restaurants. We need to stop the different pulls of the world to draw us away from our true home — there is no other party, no other friend, no other event that we need to really attend. There is just us, and the code, right here in front of us. There is much to see in our code, when we learn to see it with patience, calm and clear-headedness.

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Lesley Cheung

I'm a Hong-Kong born Canadian software engineer and teacher; my instruction focuses on the strategies needed for effective and efficient problem-solving.