Rabu, 13 Maret 2013

Keeping Perspective

This week has been one of those that seems to pass much too quickly yet interminably slowly at the same time. In a few days I will leave for a week-long conference in NYC and between now and then, I am swamped (in the very real sense, as my desk and floor are covered with papers and books) with research projects, papers to grade and homework assignments. Sleep will be reserved for the flight.

As I began to read one of the many books, I started at the Acknowledgments, which I like to read even if the book in question is a stodgy academic one. It's a habit of mine born of, I suppose, my insatiable curiosity. As I was reading, I came to the last sentence in the author's long list of acknowledgments:

"My spirited children...provide a constant supply of hugs, giggles, howls, and crayon-covered walls that remind me that book writing is a distraction from this world's true blessings".

I had to copy it immediately into my journal and then, here, to share with you.

In academia, there is a propensity to be consumed by one's research. We research that which interests us, and so it is quite easy and often pleasurable to be so enraptured. I know many professors whose lives take place 80% in the department. In fact, when I told one very prominent woman scholar in the department that I was engaged, my announcement was met with a disguised criticism. A fellow colleague waited to tell the department she was pregnant until absolutely necessary, as she feared her supervising professor would doubt the potential of her research with a child in the picture.

I recognize that sleepless nights and days spent in front of the computer, typing like a madwomen, are in my future, as is intense competition for research grants and awards and teaching positions. But all this is a PART of my future, a very small part.

I am so thankful that I can come home to my love. That my mornings consist of cuddles in bed, and my evenings of making dinner and awaiting his return from work. I don't feel guilty skipping class for ice cream, or choosing not to attend a departmental even in favor of dinner with my soon to be husband.

Because, even given my long academic career thus far, when I look back on what has made me happy I do not think of my publications or the conferences I have attended, I think of my friends and family, of my love, of the places I have traveled.

These are "this world's true blessings".

The biggest blessing, perhaps, is to be able to recognize that--look around you, and you will see that not many do.

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