Thursday, November 15, 2007

Where passions lead

The term is winding down. The students attend in reducing numbers. Open laptops (and blank stares) populate the room. Today was a rather animated lecture. I try. There are certainly aspects of it that I enjoy. I like the captive audience. I like to share my knowledge and experience with students. That's fun. And it's meaningful. I tell them that class is not about the details that they learn, though surely it is about those things in part. And I believe what I say. It is about learning how to think, about learning how to learn, about learning how to apply their knowledge in myriad domains.

Teaching does have an impact on students. It is a worthy enterprise. And yet... I truly believe that my research, and its applications will have far greater mileage, far wider impact on society, than I will just through my teaching. Sour grapes perhaps. I've mostly been denied the chance to teach. But I'm walking away from adjuncting at Lemon at the end of this term. My choice. I enjoy teaching. I disdain the treatment of adjuncts. But to be honest, it's more than that.

I'm making choices about my life. My passions lead me back to my research. We'll see about this [Interdisciplinary Post of Interest]. I expect to hear in the next couple weeks, if they choose to interview me. I'll make that decision if it becomes mine to make. And I'll make it on the basis of what I gain through the interview process, should it go any further than now. And I'll make it with my wife on the basis of what's best for our family.

But (today)... I think that's it. I'm not sure I have it in me to apply any more for faculty gigs. I'm not sure it's what I want. We're lucky, very lucky. We've money in the bank. We've got investments whose recent downturn I can fret over. I look at losses in small-cap investments (little firms, that represent someone's passion, their dreams corporeal). And I realize--how ironic--the small firm I'd really like to invest in, is my own.

Oh, we're not rich. Not really. But we're comfortable. We're comfortable enough for Rocket to walk away from her lucrative career. With some luck and pluck, we've got enough to sustain us (in a far less expensive area) for a couple years. We'll be eating up our savings. But it's an investment. (That's what they told me about an education, about a college degree. That's what I took all those damned student loans for.)

But this is different. This is an investment in me. This is an investment in my family, in our passions, our hopes, our dreams. This is an investment in something I believe in, something I can dedicate myself to. This is something about which the question "would you do it for free" is no longer hypothetical. I do do it for free.

I'm taking the chance. I'm no longer asking for it.

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