In March of 2017, I was put on temporary disability, my understanding was that working at the time would worsen my already precarious situation.
A year or so after that, it became a permanent situation. I am one of the lucky ones, I was relatively well insured for this eventuality, so if little else, my finances were not going to be an issue.
Any doctors and other medical practitioners will bring a very important matter to your attention, how are you going to fill all your time?
Given that I get tired rapidly, I decided to start things that are not time-sensitive.
PhilGuides Southern Africa
My first project was related to tourism in South Africa. I thought that since I was going to be busy I should extend that to others too.
I started to create a framework for a website where a potential tourist could purchase a pre-made self-guided tour and go to his or her favourite travel agency and book the hotels, restaurants and visits along the proposed tour. This was going to be a relatively cheap service, that would also include an encyclopedia for South African tour guides. Unfortunately, my condition did not allow for a fixed timeline and the people I enlisted to help got fed up. I understand why.
Edit: The site was retired in April 2020 but the content is still available under the travel category on this site.
Somehow, during the time I was developing the ideas behind PhilGuides, I started getting into the AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) scene on Facebook.
I built many sets since my diagnosis, it helped to train my left hand and improve dexterity, these were mostly Technic sets. At a point, I did it because I enjoyed it and it gave me a sense of satisfaction to complete a build, but I had completed the majority of Technics set available at the time. It was time to move to something else, Creator Expert Modular Building sets was where I would end up.
Again, there is a limited set of currently available buildings and it was getting expensive, I had to find an alternative. It is about then that I found out about Bricklink Studio, this is a computer-aided design software and renderer for use with LEGO. I started building in the virtual world of Stud.io, it was not long before I began to do my own designs.
I still design in Stu.io and build in the real world, my LEGO collection is still growing, albeit far slower. You can find my designs on my AFOL site Pascal’s Bricks and on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube).
A great way to keep busing is by helping friends, and that has some unexpected benefits. I ended up being very isolated in my house, yes our helper and my mother, who lives with my wife and me, are around but I found longing for more. Helping friends allows for that more part and gives a sense of purpose to boot.
My not so secret project
Over the years many friends have insisted me to write, I wrote a lot of blog posts about a great many subjects from the ludicrous insights of “How the microwave oven fuels instant gratification in society” to the useful travel tip of “What camera should you use when travelling”. But I recently started to write a book, it is a futurism novel that has its roots well grounded in today’s reality, it is a long term goal and I am still in the early stages but it also keeps me busy.
In short, find things you are interested in putting your spare energy into and get started. It will do you good and if it’s not your thing, find something else. Find something that you enjoy doing but that has a sense of fulfilment too.
Pain is one thing but pain and depression, that is a recipe for a disaster, keeping busy and satisfied will keep the depression away.
And remember, never give up, never surrender.
A happy new year and let get this decade started on a good note.