I want to do all the things.
I recognize that this is the problem. I’d like to write a book, and the other book. I’m intrigued more and more by running long distances on remote trails. There’s the research that always seems neglected and the professional opportunities and collaborations that get set aside, sometimes never to be revisited. I’d love to lead a trip of students into the wilderness, or to Europe, or both. Definitely both. And then there are the great prospects coming up this summer.
When I was a kid a friend and I played “The Everything Job.” It was kind of like being a university faculty member, but instead of committee assignments and courseloads it was comprised of a different directive each day, many of which could exist in an afternoon. A giant tree’s bark was the interactive display that told us what job was needed, usually ranging from some journey into deep space to a motorcycle chase of a villain. So, although the details were different and the pacing was more predictable, it was pretty much like my job now.
Except that each of those days and duties were completed with some satisfaction. We’d returned from the journey to another world; the bad guys were locked away. And then we’d start over. In between, there wasn’t a committee meeting or a report to file. More important, I didn’t need to drive a kid to dance class or to a music lesson. There wasn’t dinner to prepare, or shop for, or pay for. I wasn’t tired. I didn’t wake up overwhelmed with possibilities because there was only one task at hand.
If there’s a singular challenge to adulthood (which, of course, there isn’t) it’s that the tasks aren’t just what you want to do. Working really hard and starting up a band would be a huge effort and challenge on its own. But today, today there is a violin lesson to transport a child to; there’s a school fundraiser at 5:00 PM; there are dishes that need to be washed and it wouldn’t kill me if I vacuumed or even cleaned off my fucking desk. So I won’t finish the book — neither any of the ones I’m reading nor any of the ones I’d like to be writing — today.
But there’s always tomorrow.