Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Realising year end

When I was a kid I liked to imagine living in a world filled with the best rituals from all the cultures of human history. Every day I learned of another group of people doing something interesting, and my world--my worldview--was renewed and refreshed. I can't say that happens as often any more, but I do think that one of life's great pleasures is realising new things, and realising things anew. Given the incredibly narrow and focussed range of my recent activities, the things I realised this year were profound for me but probably don't resonate much with others. Still, here are five I want to take with me across the threshold tonight:

First, the dissertation is a test of scholarship, not writing. A thesis isn't a book, it's an argument. Make it, get rid of the rest, and be done with it.

Second, just because I can write something doesn't mean that I should. There is a kind of critique that makes me an arsehole instead of a scholar, and a tone that makes me pretentious instead of interesting.

Third, teaching is the facilitation of learning, not the imparting of wisdom. The only bad days teaching are the days I forget this. (Some people remember how you make them feel more than they remember what you say. Me included.)

Fourth, in a profession that places so much value on my mind, it's crucial to balance that with better care for my body and spirit. This is a never-ending struggle.

Fifth, none of these realisations need interfere with my dreams of herding alpaca and sheep, and becoming a warmly and softly clothed cheese maker.

Happy New Year!


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