Notes on a creative life (a.k.a. my return to academia)

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

streetI quit my job today. After less than a year of employment.

Was it an awful place to work? Not really. Were my coworkers difficult to get along with? No, for the most part they are wonderful, kind, intelligent people. Were my job duties mind-numbing? Sometimes, but such is the reality of many office jobs, I think. Were the hours long and conditions demanding? Definitely not. In fact, I had a pretty sweet gig: part-time, good pay, telecommuting/flexible hours, and I could even bring my dog to the office.

Why, then, did I quit? Why would I give up on a job after such a brief term? Continue reading

Advertisements

On waiting and embracing: a somewhat apologetic return from a lengthy hiatus

At times it is folly to hasten; at other times, to delay. The wise do everything in its proper time.
– Ovid

Golden aspens near Buena Vista, CO.
Golden aspens near Buena Vista, CO.

More than six months have passed since we moved to Colorado and, regrettably, since I last wrote here. My extended silence has certainly not been for lack of inspiration; here we are surrounded by indescribable beauty, settled in the eastern shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Endless jagged peaks rise to the west as a seemingly impenetrable fortress of granite, snow, and ice. Aspen groves scatter like boneyards, their golden leaves long abandoned by the frigid night. Rivers, half frozen, wind tortuously through hidden valleys and intimidating gorges. From these mountains, the eastern landscape spills forth almost as an afterthought. Foothills kicking at flatlands. Waist-high grasses rolling in the wind like waves on a golden ocean. The eastern horizon interminably flat and unremarkable, save for a jumble of urban monoliths protesting the impending monotony. Beyond, innumerable fields of sunflowers, wheat, corn, and soy, waiting patiently for spring. The Great Plains, expansive and uninviting like the southwest deserts from whence we came. Continue reading

Inflated self-importance and the value of unplugging

Oh, the mouse-clicking insanity!
Oh, the mouse-clicking insanity!

I forgot my phone at home yesterday. When I left the house in a rush, my pre-coffee brain could not recall that I had plugged it into my stereo system to stream NPR, thus avoiding the agonizing membership drive week broadcast on our local station.

I recognized the unusually comfortable state of my rear pocket while driving to campus. I then went through at least three of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief: denial (I couldn’t have forgotten it… I must have it here somewhere), anger (what an idiot I am for leaving it at home), and finally acceptance (nothing I can do about it now). But what was most interesting was the period of mild anxiety I experienced. What if clients called about their projects? What if I missed an important email? What if Ben called because his car broke down and he needed my help?

It took a surprising amount of self-talk to dispel this anxiety. I actually had to remind myself that none of my clients’ projects were so pressing that they couldn’t wait until the afternoon. Nobody was gnawing their fingernails waiting for an email response from me. And Ben has plenty of other people he can call if his car breaks down.

I am not so important that I cannot unplug for a while. None of us are. Continue reading

Solitude in wild places: Trinity Alps

The mountains are calling and I must go.

– John Muir

A quiet trail through the woods, Trinity Alps.
A quiet trail through the woods, Trinity Alps.

There is something about the high country that calls to me, pulling me from the road or the city or the coast, and into the jagged peaks and brooding valleys of the Rockies, the Sangre de Cristos, the Sierras or the Cascades. This time it was the Trinity Alps Wilderness in northern California calling to me.

One of the magazines I contribute to was in need of some photos from this area, which provided a convenient excuse for a hike. After several days spent socializing in San Francisco and Chico, I was well ready to escape to the woods with my dog. Although I am exceptionally extroverted, I also require a good amount of alone time to maintain my equanimity. I need solitude to escape the distractions of our modern lives, to quiet my mind and remember those things that are really important. Despite an unwavering attachment to certain people and my deep, meaningful and fulfilling connections to those I love, my own company is that which I thrive most on. Reconciling these two opposing forces is a continual balancing act. Hence, the solo road trips and the solitary walks in the woods. Continue reading