Workspaces and Zendos

If you think about your coding space as though it were your dojo or your zendo, what changes would you make?

I’ve been in some dojos. Basically, there are reminders everywhere of why you are there. There are traditions that are observed, such as removing your shoes. You bow before you step on that mat. You bow to the Kamiza in the corner, or whever they are in the dojo. There might be a picture of the head instructor’s master. Perhaps some caligraphy and a plant somewhere. There’s often a wooden board with each student’s wooden name located in a hierarchy of rankings. Each student can see where he/she stands in the group. So can each teacher. Each teacher knows the journey well, so it is only required to know where the student is on the journey.

Apart from the above, the dojo is very simple and spartan. In the back of the dojo, there might be some rooms for live-in students. These students are more advanced, and they live in the dojo to be around the master and learn from him in person. They also help out a lot with maintaining and taking care of the dojo.

But everywhere you look, there are no distractions. It’s all about the work and the journey doing the work. The teachers know the journey, and the students need only to stay on the journey. Everything else will unfold as it should.

Keep Coming Back

As humans we don’t always know what the hell we’re doing. Usually, we’re wandering around in a fog. So the big picture is usually lost on us. However, we can always chop wood and carry water. That is, the daily grind, whatever that is for us, that routine we know. If we can just keep doing it and just keep it pure, we’ll be okay.

The dojo can have some funky smells. There are plenty of worn spots on the mats. Sometimes there’s a hole in the sheet rock or a spot of blood on the mat. Perhaps someone spilled some paint during a caligraphy class. In other words, a dojo is not a museum. People do their work there. Yes, people try to keep it clean. But it’s a workspace. They keep coming back and doing their work there.

I did not keep coming back to Aikido at San Diego Aikikai. I was not ready to do my work yet. Kazuo Chiba was the head instructor at the time. You can see him in photos as a twenty-year old with O Sensei himself. Yes, Chiba had massive talent as a youngster. But, he had to keep coming back to get where he is. I’m sure he had many training spaces over the decades. But wherever it was for today, he went there for today. He kept coming back. He couldn’t become Chiba Shihan without coming back day after day.

My Workspace

The fact is I have lots of computers. They can be a distraction for me. I seem to have a slight PC building addiction. I like LED fans. I don’t really like overclocking. I don’t really like water cooling. And I love blinky lights inside my computers, so they must have windows in their side panels.

My office has 8 computers in it currently. I think I have 9 or 10 or so other computers elsewhere in the house. They all run a variety of operating systems. Some are laptops, some are desktops. I don’t have any tablets currently. Some are Macs, most are PCs running Linux or BSD.

Lately I’ve been doing my work in the kitchen at the kitchen table. I have a large screen 4K display and Linux box running Fedora 27. There’s a window in the side panel. There happen to be blue LED lights in this box.

I typically enjoy a Corsair K70 keyboard and a Razer Death Adder mouse. Other boxes have an IBM Model M keyboard. There are some Corsair VOID headphones and some Logitech Z100 speakers. There’s one pen holder made of black metal with gold trim which holds two Cross pens, one 14kt and one 10kt gold-filled. There’s another pen holder made of wood with some common place pens and pencils in it. On its front are etched the words, “Do Epic Shit.” I like this, because it reminds me to love my aspiration, but don’t get too wrapped up in a specific outcome, and don’t take myself too seriously. “Do Epic Shit.” Most of the time that’s exactly what I do!

The idea is, when I get to work, I get to work.

Just like the dojo. It’s a sacred space. I sit down and do my work.