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Don't Deal With It, Fix It

Posted on:April 23, 2014career5 min read

I’ve used Sublime Text for a long time. I started using it when it hit version 2 and clung to it like all hell was about to break loose.

It fit my needs well. Opened nearly instantaneously, had sensible defaults for editing, and a lush and vibrant community of third-party packages that I could install to extend its core.

There were a few things that bothered me about Sublime Text 2. Things that I just lived with as I couldn’t be bothered to fix them. No, that’s not true. I didn’t fix them because I didn’t think I was capable of fixing them. I looked at these inconveniences as something I just had to deal with because that’s how the program worked, and there was nothing within my power to make it better.

For a long time I lived with these irksome issues. Every time they popped up I would quickly swallow the ire that would rise in my throat, fighting it down so it wouldn’t overwhelm. I would remind myself on every recurrence that this was just something I had to live with. It was just the way things are, and either I had to deal with it or go look for some other code editor.

Every time I was faced with something annoying that Sublime Text did I would I swallow my annoyance. I would side-step it and walk right back into Sublime Text’s loving embrace. Because for that one thing that annoyed me, it did countless other things that were simply amazing. So I would live with it.

I’ll never forget when my friend Dom started using Sublime Text. He was a long time vim user, staunchly entrenched in the comfort of vim. Able to navigate his way across any document with just a matter of keystrokes. I was able to finally persuade him to try out Sublime Text by highlighting its ability to emulate vim’s key bindings. After weeks of lobbying and convincing, Dom finally tried out Sublime Text and began to appreciate it in much the same way I had.

He used it, and began to like it. He slowly started expanding his Sublime Text knowledge, gaining more experience with the program as he programmed. All was well for Dom until one day when Dom experienced the same annoyance that I had for weeks tried my best to ignore.

I’ll never forget what Dom did next.

He fixed it.

He set aside some time during his day and fixed this bug that I had been living with for months.

He researched why this bug was happening and then looked into the Sublime Text API and created a third-party package that completely fixed the issue.

I was dumb struck. It had not once occurred to me that it was within my power to fix this thing. I simply believed that it was something I was stuck with. And that was the assumption under which I operated for months.

Dom? He wouldn’t put up with it. He stopped everything he had to do, and found a fix to make his Sublime Text experience one without any grievance.

Since that day I’ve learned that I have the power to fix things around me that I don’t like. I don’t need to just deal with it because that’s just the way things are. I have the power to shape the world around me. It’s just a matter of believing that I can change things. Just believing is all I need to actually take the first step towards taking action.

Sure this was about fixing a bug in a piece of software that annoyed me. But the implications of this realization was one that has reverberated throughout my way of going about life.

Just the other day I was about to go into the planetarium at the Museum of Natural History. As the massive herd of people rushed past doors propped open by doorstops one doorstop came loose. This caused each person walking through the doorway to hold the door open for the person behind them. So it went in a long chain of people, each holding the door open for the next person, every one ignoring the door stop loose on the ground. However when I came to the door I paused to find the doorstop and jam it back into the door. A clear problem with a clear solution. All it took was a belief that I could fix the problem, and some time to take action.

I’m trying to do that more and more as I go about my days. When I see a problem I’m going to look for a solution. No longer will I try to just deal with it. I’m going to try and make it better. No matter how small and trivial it may be. I believe I can make my world better. All it requires is some action.

Update: By popular demand and through the miracle of memory recal I’ve managed to remember what the issue was. I was using an existing Sublime Text plugin that was using the SublimeText API incorrectly which caused an error pop-up window to show every so often. It was infrequent enough to not bother me, however it was enough to annoy Dom. So he went into the source code and found the offending line and fixed it to prevent the pop-up from ever showing again. Sure it was a small thing, but made the entire experience that much better.