for a reckoning of sorts—time to re-examine the state of my life, the state of my health, the arc of my trajectory. Sorry, everyone, for being essentially unreachable for so long. I have been tremendously busy for some time.
That state of affairs has how, however, evolved to some extent. I’m sitting here at midday in front of my little computing universe organizing things. Things: photos (lots and lots of them), files, email messages, all sorts of little artifacts of the sort that in another epoch would have been material, things to cling to, things to put in a wooden box for children or grandchildren or history.
Instead, these days we have data, for better or for worse, and this data is mine.
I am trying to understand what my data—its presence, its organization, and its importance to me—are trying to tell me. I have in fits and spurts for the better part of a decade now been relatively focused in pursuit of certain goals, the most central of which was the establishment of an academic career, with accompanying doctorate degree.
Such a path cannot be walked in a straight line; finances, living arrangements, credentials, relationships, and practical emotional and physical realities always conspire to make the road a winding one. Mine has been no less winding than any other, having taken me to both coasts, to the midwest and to the south, through several academic programs and work relationships.
I have seen a great deal and for many years the goal was the most important thing in my life. It was, in fact, the only stable thing in my life, the only thing that was mine, the only love that wouldn’t leave me.
I feel as though I am at something of a subtle crossroads. Two years ago I wouldn’t have recognized it; it is only the experience that I have gained of late that has given me the emotional and intellectual wherewithal to see beneath the moss and realize that there are choices to make, directions to choose, futures to either embrace or neglect.
Unfortunately, I am not yet quite experienced enough to be able to weigh the options skillfully or even to be able to elucidate them in full. Off in one direction runs some constellation of financial security and careerism, both tremendously important to me. In another runs academics and a related but different careerism. In still a third I see books and books alone. In a fourth I see only financial security but the abandonment of both career and academics as priorities.
The question that faces me is this: having found for some time now the happiness that I want more than all others—that is to say, life with my beautiful wife—what else, precisely, do I want? What do I want to be the nature of my life with her, of our life together?
Are we to be a working couple? A couple with one breadwinner and one stay-at-home parent? An academic couple? A small business couple? Something else entirely? And where are we to live? And when are we to make such diversions from the direction in which we now face? Is this the proper crossroads at which to alter the route or will there be another a few miles down the road that is more convenient and well-marked than this one?
The choice is not entirely mine, of course.
But at the same time, the responsibility to make it for myself, right now, is mine. The responsibility to be at peace with the choice, whatever choice it is that I make, is mine.
The responsibility to try to divine, to discern the destination of these paths that intersect here is also for the moment largely mine as a matter of practical logistics.
This research must be conducted, but it must be conducted on the one hand rapidly and on the other with wisdom and maturity of a kind I’ve never needed before.
Things are changing.
Things are always changing.
The question, at each change, is this:
how should I direct this change?