Back to Business

Last weekend, my daughter Taylor was reading something intently on her iPad.

“I’m reading your blog,” she said.

“Oh my gosh,” I said.  “I haven’t posted anything in ages.”

“Is that because you don’t have anything to write about?”

“No, it’s because now that I’ve gone back to work, I don’t have time.”

“Maybe you could write about how you’re addicted to Hay Day,” she said.

Point well made.

I was first introduced to Hay Day last fall, by Jack and Taylor.  Although in all my years of growing up on a farm I never once lifted a pitchfork, the concept of my own virtual farm intrigued me.  Before I knew it, Jack and I had launched a joint venture on my iPad.  At first I needed Jack’s coaching to help me find the hidden boxes filled with goodies and figure out how to price things for quick sale on my roadside stand.  But in time, I needed his help less and less and relied on him only when I couldn’t be Hay Day-ing myself.

“Hey Jack, I’ve got to go to the grocery store, but my boat will leave in half an hour and I’m still waiting for a pumpkin pie to bake.  Can you make sure that you load it in twenty minutes or so?”

Since returning to full time work this past January, I’ve had to adjust my Hay Day activities, getting my Monday to Friday farming fix only in the evenings.  But on weekends still I check in every couple of hours to make sure I’m optimizing the output of my production buildings.  Bacon pies, carrot cakes, strawberry ice cream cones, juices, jams, cheeses, and even knitted sweaters and hats, pour out of my little farm on a daily basis.

Connecting with friends on Facebook made the game even better.  Early on, I connected with Taylor, some of her friends, and my twenty-something year old nieces.  Playing a game with young people made me feel ‘plugged in’ and every time I helped fill one of their boat orders or revived one of their fruit trees, I felt like I was sending them a little bit of love.  One person couldn’t possibly fill all those crates on the boat!  I had to rely on other people too, often strangers, to help me fill boat orders.  Before long, my farm was fully knitted into the bigger community that is Hay Day.

A couple of months ago, Jack abandoned his farm in favour of Clash of the Clans and Taylor recently packed it in for Video Star.  My nieces also seem to have moved on, with Facebook updates now lauding their achievements on Candy Crush.  More and more, the strangers who help my boat have farm names comprised of Russian and Arabic characters and I’m coming to accept that playing Hay Day may no longer qualify me as ‘current’ here in North America.  I’ve been playing for almost a year now and my friends are all gone; I’ve succeeded in expanding my farm to the max and have amassed a virtual fortune of gold coins.  And yet, I still can’t seem to bring myself to give it up.

For me, the appeal of Hay Day is its industriousness.  On a farm, there is always something that needs to be done, and together, all these little actions lead to something bigger. 

Three years ago, when I said goodbye to my corporate job, I pictured a new and improved life of leisure.  I imagined myself spending time writing in my journal.  I would take long walks in the woods.  I would watch Dr. Phil and read magazines.  Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I am not wired for a leisurely life. 

The magazines I had wished I had time to read all those years, turned out to be full of fluff.  Every time I sat down with my morning coffee and tried to read one, I felt my mind wandering to other more important things I felt I should be doing.  So instead, the cupboards got cleaned, the baseboards got a fresh coat of paint and the crabgrass got pulled from the lawn.  I felt better when I was getting something ‘done’ but the endlessness of household chores made the whole enterprise seem futile.  The clean house got dirty again.  The gourmet dinner was soon eaten and forgotten.  The cupboards got re-cluttered and the baseboards got scuffed.  Even my marketing consulting projects were temporary.  Companies brought me in to do my thing, and then I moved on. 

Hay Day helped me remember how much I like running a business.  I like being involved in making stuff and selling it.  I like being part of a team and striving to achieve long term goals.  And I like being involved in something beyond myself. 

For the longest time, I thought that I worked in business because I had a mortgage to pay.  But thanks to Hay Day, and a brand new role at a company that is full of opportunity and void of bureaucracy, I now know that for me, industry isn’t just a means to an end.