What matters?

Late last night, I got a call from a very good old high school friend from Ohio, Jon Hamilton. Jon started out soon after high school as an EMT, went back to school to become a paramedic, and is now a firefighter in a north-side suburb of Columbus. Jon, and another friend Ken Sabo, just earned the 2002 Championship in the production class of the SCCA Pro Rally Circuit. I think Jon got his first VW GTI while we were seniors in high school, which came pre-mod as a rally car with a full rollover cage. I remember riding along with Jon as navigator in a couple of the Ohio State SCCA chapter rallies. They were a blast, but unfortunately, my weak motion-sickness-prone stomach couldn’t handle the fast turns, shouting out directions from a dinky hand-drawn map at the same time. Jon has been making news with the win because he now races with a soy-based diesel-powered Volkswagen Golf.

While I was talking with Jon, sharing stories about the recent positive events in both of our lives, I was struck by how utterly different our worlds are. He’s still one of my best friends, even though a month or two or more can go by in between the times we talk. XHTML, CSS, Web standards, high-traffic sites? Jon would have no idea, except that his wife used to work at CompuServe, and now works for WorldCom, so he picks up on the technical details through osmosis. Just as I think everything he’s done and achieved is fascinating and enviable, he looks at me the same way. Although in reality, we don’t understand a lick of the issues the other of us deals with on a daily basis.

The conversation with Jon was an excellent reminder to keep it all in perspective. I’ve been running for so long on the pure adrenaline created by working on the Wired redesign. My head has been up high taking in the large picture and managing the big concepts behind the redesign, and it’s also been down in the thick of solving the tiny discrepancies between browsers. But when I step back for a moment, I realize my life for the past several months has been absorbed in a world of details that the majority of this earth’s population would never care for… nor understand.