On this very same iPad I wrote most of a doctoral dissertation.
In his recent article at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Paul J. Griffiths says, “How is it possible that I’ve held professorial chairs at top-flight universities? It didn’t seem possible when I began; it scarcely seemed so even when it happened; and now that it’s over, it seems like a Taoist butterfly-dream or a Buddhist sky-flower.”
That’s how I feel about the things I’ve done, too. Not that I’ve held professorial chairs at top-flight universities. But I have had the privilege of teaching at some very good schools. And earning a doctorate. Writing a number of books. And so on.
But it seems inconceivable to me now that I did those things. I can’t remember much of how any of it felt. I have images in my head—visuals—of me doing them, but the experience itself? Lost to time.
In general, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as though there was a deep integration between me (being) and me (identity). I’ve spent my entire life feeling as though I’m putting on identities and personas as one might put on clothes, and as though these things were closer to robotic power suits than to tweed suits in their natures—they pretty much ran themselves; I was just along for the ride. Who wrote the books? Taught the classes? Automata, I suppose. Surely not me?
— § —
I am running out of time.
© Aron Hsiao / 2003
Time to do things, time to earn things, time to outrun life.
Every young person thinks they’ll outrun life. They’ll be a doctor and a lawyer and a professional football player and an austronaut and they’ll garden on weekends and sail a boat sometimes and in between it all they’ll earn enough to become rich and spend a certain amount of time living in luxury and reflecting on a lifetime of achievements and good memories.
There is so much time when you’re young—time, it always seems, to do everything.
Then one day you wake up and in fact, you’ve used up most of your time and you’ve only managed—and this if you’re lucky—to do one or two things. You can look back and see what your top priorities were, because everything else has floundered, and you’re left to wonder what might have happened if your priorities had been otherwise.
— § —
Maybe I should start dating 19- and 20-year-olds. If nothing else, they have the time that I don’t. Does it rub off that way?
— § —
Some people live in the world of concrete things.
Some people live in the world of possibilities and ideas.
I’m definitely the latter. I sometimes can’t even see concrete things; it’s the concrete things that seem shaky and transparent to me, like I could pass my hand through them. But ideas and possibilities seem to have an incredible durability.