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Doug Arcuri
Doug Arcuri

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Do You Have a Forever Project?

My interests tend to have a long tail, re-blooming decades later. Their revival is shaped by a life-altering catalyst, sparking a renewed interest in good feelings. Lately, I've dug deeper into these curiosities, nurturing a set of passions. Retro-gaming is one of them, and short-form writing is another, but most important is reviving my exhaustion in software development.

So when the global pandemic unrolled with my family sheltered away, I inventoried my life for meaning, taking stock in what I had. That time of unease reminded me of my early years behind the monitor, locked away, tinkering with a project with others on the Internet. Uncovering these feelings opened a long-standing desire to continue something I started so long ago. Some call it a passion project, but I'd like to call it a forever project.

Deeper Than a Passion Project

My forever project involves developing video game modifications. "Modding" is an enveloping environment, exercising skills of artistry and software engineering. Important in this writing is to label what I am experiencing. Do others resonate with a similar stimulus in their immersive projects?

Labeling an effort like a forever project gets me thinking deeply in meta. In my own experience, a forever project is a unique designation. Its revival is a miracle, and its timescale lasts decades. I found my forever project by pursuing a hobby, which had become my software career. But then I burned out, and when world events affected daily life, I rediscovered where it started.

What Makes a Forever Project?

My forever project is a continuous stream of effort in the background. Deeper than a side project, side quest, or a passion project, my forever project has challenged me, and its feedback comes in waves of interest. This project is a sidecar making life enjoyable. I describe it as a pedantic feeling of excitement, a rush of good emotions while creating something meaningfully valuable.

So, what defines the attributes of a forever project?

Surrounded by others, old and new - a forever project will have a support community. Different groups of people, over time, tend to come and go within the project. It may even become increasingly popular.

It goes on for decades - as in its name, a forever project tends to go on forever. The project will depend on a community supporting its revival. It will go through periods of contributions and, other times, enter dormancy. However, it will come back with roaring nostalgia into something modern.

A feedback loop that never gets old - the forever project resists staleness, continuously demanding solutions to problems. During the day, the answers to issues will naturally come. There is a tendency to a cycle, but it's not formal; the rules are casual.

Not attached to a company or job - forever projects aren't connected to an entity that optimizes revenue or pursues an industry. However, it will attract those who see the concept as profitable. For the creator, an introduction to a new career. In my case, a rejuvenation of creativity.

Bubbles with excitement, challenging at all levels - a forever project provides a feedback loop touching different skillsets of interest. A forever project delivers to a community, adding value to it.

At most, a handful in a lifetime - since the timescale is exceptionally long, its efforts compound, altering the path of one's life, forever projects occur only a handful of times.

Without a concrete plan but has a form - a forever project will tap into skillsets by growing them, for example, shipping things over perfecting them. Participating will exercise the skills picked up over the years, with control and finesse, without all the rules. Its actualization is learning with an impactful result.

Promotes progeny and resists fading away - forever projects continue even after their original authors stepped away. Or if the contributors are forcibly removed from their creative chairs. The project is open for anyone to contribute, preferring to share it now over the risk of losing it soon. No matter how personal a forever project may feel, it attracts contributors because of its inevitable community impact.

Creating Without Many Constraints

After rediscovering my forever project, I've been engaging with the effort for over a year. Its attributes are invisible, and why I write to memorialize my experience in pursuit of the medium.

Perhaps having numerous interests increases the chance of discovering the next forever project. But more so, having just one has made me happy. I'm creating again without all the rules, formalities, or politics.

Do you have a forever project?

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