Friday, December 21, 2007

Clearing the decks

My ship is tethered to shore, firmly holding against wind and waves in this protected inlet, yet like an eager horse, tied to post, awaiting freedom to fly.

I need to clear the decks, in preparation for the journey. A few weeks ago, I agreed to pen a brief (2000 words) biography of my dissertation protagonist, for a set of library volumes. It's not so much. I considered writing my regrets, and recommending a colleague (the one who got the post I almost had three years ago). But it won't hold me down too long. A commitment is still a commitment.

Then, there's a book chapter (culminating from the conference I gave a plenary address at last summer in the UK). I'm supposed to prepare an abstract for that by January 11, and a final chapter submission by end of October 2008. Should I still write it? Does it matter any more?

I wonder at these little milestones, that I used to believe meaningful, that might have served in my tenure portfolio as evidence of productiveness. Now I view it more as tying up loose ends, not disappointing those counting on my word, not cheapening my word by backing out. But they hold little meaning for me anymore, little hope that their reach shall be broad.

I am sad.

Today is different though. The sadness does not consume me. There is no depression in my heart. Resentment has left me. I am me, unadorned, free. There are choices that I have made in my life, commitments that I will hold to. I have a family I adore.

And... I have dreams, and passions. I met my wonderful wife in 1994 as we both entered graduate school. We've passed through many things since then. I wondered out loud the other night, which one my many selves it was that Rocket fell in love with. She replied that she fell in love with a dreamer, overflowing with passion and ideas.

Let the dreams begin (again)!

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