The Frustrating, Impossible Beauty Of ‘The Perfect Setup’

Others with gadget addictions will know these feels: Most of my life is spent questing for the Perfect Setup. That means different things at different times to different people, of course, and especially when it comes to tech, the goal posts keep moving. But it can still happen, and when it does, it can make the whole frustrating journey seem worth it.

Recently, I achieved a kind of overarching, macro-level Perfect Setup, marking the first (and likely last) time I’ve ever done so. That means that it’s not just my office that’s ideally outfitted: the whole house, my car, everything about my tech life is exactly how I need it to accomplish everything I want to get done.

Hitting that kind of perfection is an odd thing – in many ways I’d come to accept that my quest was quixotic, and couldn’t actually culminate in anything resembling satisfaction. The gadget over will know that there’s a process of looking for product reviews on Amazon, The Wirecutter, and everywhere else on the web that arises for each new component or ingredient you find you need for your setup, and that new needs arise based on satisfying old ones, as each new piece of the puzzle opens up a new possibility tree with branches that themselves multiply when addressed and so on.

At least for a given person at a given time, however, I realized that it’s possible to answer all needs and not have any new ones, and at first of course it felt deflating: Pursuit of ever-better gadgets isn’t a quest taken lightly, and generally at best achieving perfection in one area (aka home office) just means refocusing on another (aka portable office). Also, it’s possible that the standards of the quester in this case changed, making perfection more achievable. But whatever the case, after the momentary panic of boredom, I took stock and found nothing lacking

It won’t last. Anything could upset the balance – a new product launch, a slight shift in job description and requirements, an unpleasant experience with some portion of my current setup. I’m okay with that, since the quest itself has been kind of the point for a long time. But I’m also increasingly comfortable with this new thing called satisfaction: Here’s hoping it sticks around for a while.