Okay, since I’m struggling to get myself to do this in private, let’s do it in public so that I know that I have to perform. Seems to be a quirk of mine—I’m far better in public than I ever am in private.
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© Aron Hsiao / 2004
Where would I like to be in ten years? A simple enough question, right? Not so fast! It really isn’t.
- I’d like to be writing books again. I miss it. Preferably fiction—to finally deliver on some of that “promise” I was always told that I show—but I’ll settle for anything that gets me back on the shelves and back to churning chapters out.
- I’d like to be living in a smaller house, that I actually own. I don’t know where. It’s tough to talk about these kinds of things without thinking of the kids, and that’s not by accident. The kids come first. I don’t like Utah, but Utah is their home. But at least a smaller house. Nearer the mountains.
- I’d like to be financially secure. Right now I am not. I have relationships to thank for this. Every time I have a relationship (marriage or otherwise) in my life, it destroys me financially. I hesitate to make further comment here, but I’ll defer to others’ imaginations on what this says about significant others, and about me.
- I’d like to have the academics question settled. Either I will be or I won’t be. I don’t want to still be dreaming of doing it someday; I want it to either be entirely out of my system or to have an office on campus.
- I want to be single. This is tough to admit to myself. It treads on a bunch of insecurity-laden territory. Relationships are good for the ego. One worries that over time if one is always “the single parent,” that the kids will enjoy life elsewhere more, begin to see one as a bit less-than somehow. But at the end of the day, I am tired. I am tired of people my own age. I’ve had my fill. I have always been happier, in the end, on my own. It is time I admit that to myself. It’s not that I don’t have anything to give, or don’t want to receive; it’s that I’m just not highly compatible with most people, and the exercise is too expensive. I’m over 40. I have limited resources and years left. I don’t want to waste them on relationship nonsense, and I am blessed to be a person that doesn’t have to, even if it’s tempting at times.
- I want to be the best damned father ever, with a central place in my my children’s lives so that I can be of support to them. But what does this mean, and how to weigh it, so as to do good rather than to do damage? Unanswerable questions. Frustrating, that.
- I want to be me. I think the biggest fear in my life right now (apart from the general dread and anxiety that comes with the parent of children who will grow up in a divided family, with much troubled water under the bridge) is the fear of losing my faculties. Of losing all of that knowledge, all of the habits of mind, all of the familiar inquisitiveness, that are me. I have the strange fear that at some point I will wake up and want to do nothing other than watch television all day. That is a terrifying thought.
- I’d like to be happy again. Despite the fact that my children are the most important things in my lives and have brought me untold joy, every other part of my life went off the rails the moment we became parents. Academic career fell apart. Marriage was instantly on the rocks and ultimately couldn’t be steered away from the ditch into which it ran. By ten years out, the kids will be in high school and thinking about college. By then, I’d like to feel as though something else is right in my life again.
- I’d like to have a reasonable relationship with my STBX. The problem is that we exist in completely different emotional and cognitive universes. We can’t share joy together and we can’t disagree. Either brings tension. It’s like a problem in translation; neither can make any sense of the other and bad things result. I’d like to get to a place where it feels like we are not trying to avoid pushing each other’s buttons. I don’t know if that’s possible. Maybe we always will. I know for sure right now that she pushes my buttons when she opens up and stops tiptoeing around, and I suspect that I push hers when I do the same. It would be nice someday not to have to feel that way about each other and to have open, relaxed conversations, instead of strained bomb defusings of the same kind that we had to do fifty times a day while we were married and living together. Ten years?
- I want to be doing something real. More on this later.
Shit. The list is a flop. Why?
It’s completely not actionable, for the most part. It’s all ephemeral, conceptual stuff. I guess that’s where I am in life.
Add this one:
- I want to have found a balance again—the balance that I once found in Chicago and then again in New York—between the conceptual and the actionable in life. I have the bad habit of being trapped in conceptual space, as though it is enough in life to wrangle with concepts. Maybe this is also part and parcel of the cultural fabric—the schematic centrality of identity and identity-habits—that I have spent so much time complaining about here. But yes, in ten years, I would like to see more action—and I don’t mean women.
I wrote, some time ago, that when life gets difficult, it is time to take the big risks, engage in the grand actions, and that this is what separates one group from the other in life.
I have spent the last year and a half making good on that offer to myself. But I need to keep it up—and indeed to avoid the slide back into conceptualism.
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Still a waste of space. Not good enough.
I’ll have to try again soon, and see if I have the balls to think clearly and speak clearly in public on any matters of importance, given that my entire life right now is that of a person precariously balanced on the edge of a precipice being buffeted by the wind.