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Hunt & Gather

I work on my business creating visual effects and video games typically around 12 hours a daily, there are days I work longer and days that are shorter, but like today some of my hunting and gathering is done with my son Asher on my back.  Asher turned one year old this week, and is right around 22 lbs of weight on me while I work.  His naps have finally started to happen in his bed, but when they are on my back or more frequently my wife Sheryl’s, it is a 22 lbs that we carry around for hours at a time.

It isn’t always easy trying to program a particularly gnarly script when the weight sits in for an hour and I find myself stretching to type while bouncing gently to some music to keep him down. Maybe it shouldn’t be easy though.   This is life, or at least part of it, or maybe the bulk of it.   I personally don’t believe our ancestors were likely to leave their babies and children behind when they went to hunt and gather.  Although I have read in anthropology that it’s possible that the fathers went off in hunting groups for weeks at a time I’m finding it hard to buy that the group was separated for long stretches.

From a Darwinian perspective, it is completely valid that families are together to maximize security, to build bonds and to teach children.   In our culture though it has become more important to become properly “socialized” than to socialize with our family.   This all important construct seems to be at the heart of many artificial constructs.  We have the artificial construct of separating work and family.  To facilitate this construct we have to let babies cry it out and sleep through the night typically in another room   Children are going off to day care and schools at earlier and earlier ages to facilitate the hard-working couple who is simply trying to make ends meet.

I understand it isn’t always easy, and when I commuted it was not easy to leave the house before my family was awake and not be home until they were asleep.

I believe though that there is a substantial population of people out there who could claim back the combination of family and work being in the same space.  The speed of computers and the interconnectivity of the internet has assured that this is easy to do.

I don’t think this is likely soon though.  Let’s look at it this way, thousands of years ago those hunter gatherers built these amazing structures, Stonehenge being one of many examples.  These megalithic stone structures were about community, family, health and bearing witness to the patterns of the universe so that we could hunt and gather more effectively.  However, today’s edifices are skyscrapers, and they are devoted to making us as efficient as possible and keeping work and family separate.   A lot of money goes into creating and maintaining an office space which means people are committed to this vision of keeping things separate for now.

I don’t need a towering structure to validate my work experience and to make me feel valuable. I don’t need the continual reminder that there is work to be done, I know there is work to be done, but there is a family to be raised too.  I believe that instead of coffee breaks spending time with our children is a worthy goal that could change the rate children become medicated and dysfunctional in our culture.  It could impact divorce rate giving families more real interaction together where work is not some abstract thing that dad or mom do someplace else.  It could give a place to connect with family, rather than taking away connectivity.

There is value to being close to family and perhaps not working my 12 hours consecutively, but with breaks weaving in and out of the day like our hunter/gatherer forebears did and still do in some parts of the world.

This isn’t for everyone, and indeed many people don’t have families when they begin their careers, however the workplace is not setup to evolve with us as human-beings living a life. There is no room to have a family frankly, and in my experience when family becomes a priority the family-man or family-woman starts losing rank at a company where any number of new people are ready to come up and take their place.

This is an unspoken truth.  It’s either toe the line, or step aside in this world for someone who will.   It is invalidating to the experience of being human, to interacting with family, and for the exact reason that we have a job, to make a living.

Having been a twenty-something man who has worked massive hours to establish myself, I can tell you straight, that it is not living.


Daev Finn is an artist, illustrator, writer, visual effects artist, and video game developer, whose work can best be seen as Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects.

Daev lives in Colorado with his two sons Everest and Asher, and his wife Sheryl Paul, author of The Conscious Bride, and The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner.

2 comments to Hunt & Gather

  • And this exactly why I’m in love with you… ; )

  • Great post, Daev! I couldn’t help but envision you presenting this as a speech at TED. It is exactly the kind of thing I’ve come to look forward to hearing at TED and hope that perhaps, someday, you might be able to deliver that message and have it really heard. Never give up ground on what you believe in.

    Take care!

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