But apart from the particular fun (or not) of computer programming, Brooks had a great list of the reasons that “craft” is fun:
1. “The sheer joy of making things.” Not to be underestimated.
2. “The pleasure of making things that are useful to other people.” Seeing other people take delight in what we’ve created, or benefit from something we’ve done, is enormously satisfying.
3. “The fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects...and watching them work.” Getting something to WORK. An under-appreciated joy. Gosh, when I finally got some songs to load into my iPod, I thought I would break into song.
4. “The joy of always learning, which springs from the nonrepeating nature of the task.”
5. “The delight of working in such a tractable medium. The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff.” True — but the opposite of a profound truth is also true, and I think there’s a mirror pleasure to be gained from dealing with actual, physical, tangible materials.
Reading this discussion reminded me of Stuart Brown’s styles of “play personality,” which, as several commenters pointed out, seemed to omit the computer-programmer’s kind of play, though perhaps it is encompassed in Brown’s #7.
The more I’ve reflected on the nature of happiness, the more convinced I’ve become that an atmosphere of growth is a key to a happier life. Making something, fixing something, helping someone...these kinds of activities give me enormous energy and zeal. William Butler Yeats wrote: “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor thing thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”
How about you? Do you get happiness from the “joy of craft”? What kinds of activities bring you that joy? More and more, I’m making sure that I have plenty of the atmosphere of growth, and the joy of craft, in my life.