168 hours per week. I missed the birth of my firstborn because I was working. But before you start judging the misappropriation of my life, understand what I’m doing.
I’m solving a problem — the one, single, inescapable problem that deserves to be solved. The single problem we all face every day, no matter our race, creed, or walk of life. All evolution screams toward the solution, begging for the answer behind every mutation, every amendment. I feel no remorse for not being present when my son entered the world. Surely, he’ll grow to understand. I’m solving a problem. The one problem that deserves to be solved.
I gain some meager ounce of comfort from the knowledge that I can measure my progress. The closer I get to solving that problem, the closer I get to being done. I’ll know when I’m done, because there won’t be anything left to solve. The answer will be there, screaming at me in the shimmering daylight.
It’s hard for some people to understand the magnetic pull that wrenches my hands to this problem, my mind to this solution. Some pretend like they understand. They say that it’s a “calling.”
That word fails to reach my devotion.
By the time my wife left me, I expected nothing less. I arrived back home after a three-day stint at the facility, and she was gone. She’d taken all of her things. She’d left a note on the kitchen table, with one word, scribbled in her beautiful, rippling cursive:
“Good luck, should you finish.”
I took it to mean nothing, and tore it up. Then went back to work, and collapsed with exhaustion around 3 a.m..
The press loves to prod and poke at unimportant things. When a millionaire CEO entrepreneur’s wife leaves, it doesn’t matter what else he’s doing with his time. What matters is that she left him.
But the problem still screamed, louder than ever, regardless of the amount of attention paid it by the press. I doubled the pace. We accelerated toward an answer, shattering any expectation of our grasp.
“Soon.” I told myself. “Soon.”
The arrival of the solution came venomously, rapidly, and twisted. I’d been awake for thirty-six hours, and the fierce torque of waking consciousness drove my momentum.
Our solution appeared. The answer greeted us, boldly and vibrantly.
Press and media coverage scraped past me for the next nine hours. After everything faded, I found myself back at my house.
I lay in my bed and looked up at the ceiling.
The terrifying pull of the answer to my hands refused to let me sleep.
I thought about what I would do the next day. And the next day, and the day after that.