Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Semester End Spring 2011  §

The next eleven or so days will be very intense as the semester winds down, the “tie it all together” class sessions have to be held, grading is going to occur (with the usual short timeframes and deadlines that inevitably seem to accompany final grading) and then our longtime babysitter (auntie) flies out of New York leaving my wife and I as sole caregivers for the first time since December.

Despite the density, I am also determined to chuck out some serious dissertation work during this time, and I’ve carved up the days beforehand in a fairly intense way that will require rationality and discipline but that will hopefully produce very good results.

It’s about time I got some serious work time in which to… do serious work.

Let’s see if we can make this happen. After the sixteenth there will be ample time to rest—for nearly two months, in fact. In the meantime, it’s time to pull socks up and finally make something happen. Time’s a wasting.

— § —

When I was much (much) younger, my mother read a couple of books that led her to believe it was a good idea to write personal and family “mission statements” encapsulating values and goals. I gave the suggestions and sound mocking at the time (this would have been during the late 1980’s) and basically refused to participate.

Now, decades later, I find myself toying with the same ideas.

It’s not that they were bad ideas after all, just presented to the wrong audience. A high school student is really not sufficiently ethically or motivationally developed to know what his or her “mission” in life is. Or, rather, a high school student’s “mission” is to try to avoid unnecessary work, stay off parents’ and administrators’ radar, garner the interest of the opposite sex+gender, and spend/consume as much as possible (despite the fact that not much of this is usually possible, due to the lack of any serious career and/or resulting income).

But now, in my mid-30’s the calculation has changed. It seems to me that it would now be tremendously helpful to have a motto, personal value, or three hung up somewhere very visible so that it’s not so easy for me to forget, in the incredible density of everyday life, just why I am doing all of the things that I am doing and (and this is the important bit) how to adjudicate most usefully between competing demands for my time and attention.

That’s what’s lacking in my life right now—a clear and ongoing understanding, as circumstances evolve, of which fires I ought to just let burn, which bridges I really don’t need (because I never again plan to cross them, based on what I want out of life and where I am), and so on.

Right now the reasons for doing things tend to disappear behind the things themselves, and one begins to have incoming tasks appearing at such an alarming rate that they are uncritically accepted and simply tossed on the top of the pile, even as I work frantically from its bottom, not having the time to think critically or reflectively about things like prioritization, etc.

I need to throw some stuff away, and I need to learn to do this on an ongoing basis. I need to develop a filter or set of filters for myself.

But I need help from myself, as this “ongoing basis” of life happens, in determining what criteria are at work in the decision(s) about what is to go and what is to stay.

I suspect that sometime over the next week or so, busy and dense as it is already scheduled to be, I will set about the task of coming up with some kind of “mission statement” that I can use as a lens for seeing life and its decisions.

Ania says:

Keep a clear mind, a clear schedule, and a clear desk.

Keep a fire burning inside you. An intellect and heart being on fire seem to be prerequisites for a cool life.

Listen to your children. Learn with your children.

Learn to let go.