Thursday, November 1, 2007

Just living life

I had some phone interviews this morning, and the attitude of one of my interviewers really captured the ideal existence. When talking about her position, she said, "I don't know if I'll get promoted. I'll just enjoy it while I'm here and see what happens."

For all that we worry about the job search, everyone ends up with some job. The malcontents will grouse and the optimists will be happy, and there will be advantages and disadvantages. Even the best-funded positions sometimes lack resources or support.

Only at the points of transition, do we think about the specifics of life, sometimes getting down (at least in my case) into the nit-picky details that you can never really know. When you start a new job, you fill your life again, quite literally: furniture for oddly-shaped spaces; staple foods to fill the shelves; friends to build a new social world; a routine with commuting routes, supermarkets, laundry, seminars; activities like a gym, running paths, volunteer work. But at some point, the work is done, it's all settled, and you can just live your life.

It can be tempting sometimes to live in the transition points. Starting over brings hope --- filling a new apartment is the adult version of shopping for school supplies as a child or mulling over syllabi to choose classes as a college student. In the transition points, there is all the potential in the world, the tasks are simple, and bad habits aren't important, but there's no life to be lived in transition.

At the moment that life starts again, you can fall behind, procrastinate, sleep late, come late, miss something, get behind, and since I'm a perfectionist sometimes I just want to go back before everything started and try again for perfect. Of course, at the moment that life starts again, you can make progress, make mistakes, learn something, do something, come very close to finishing something and in one last great push finish it, meet people, come early, start earlier than you would have expected, enjoy sleeping late, until at least 7:30 because you deserve it. I want to try to see things in this latter way, but the former feels more natural.

Life has started. Settled is where I am right now. My furniture is settled and I am really actually fond of it, and especially I love the way that the sun comes in the apartment in the morning; my kitchen shelves are full; I am making friends and have more people I'd like to spend time with than time to spend with them; routine is difficult to establish especially with travel and interruptions, but I'm getting there, I have a roommate who is a good pace-setter, and at least I've nearly figured out transportation; and I've started some hobbies and have lists of others to try when I have the chance. What is left for me is simply to live my life, and as scary as it is, I really want to do that: to have a solid 10 hours every day in which to finish the unfinished projects and papers and start the new ideas that have been sitting in the back of my mind, and just be efficient. It's a tricky balance to be settled enough to put in regular hours for long periods to finish projects, yet to feel unsettled enough to push and finish and not let things get more and more leisurely, slowing down into the Doldrums, the place you end up when you don't know where you're going in the words of the Phantom Tollbooth.

I don't know what will happen. I'll just enjoy it while I'm here and see what happens.

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