A second coming…

November 21, 2005

Months ago I wrote about clarity, and how fleetingly it comes and goes for me; how rare it is. But today it came to me again. I was browsing through the bookstore, and suddenly I felt it wash over me, encompassing my whole body, cleansing my mind. The weight at the back of my head disappeared, though had not known it existed. My life just came into perspective, and the small worries of work and presentations, and infighting all just disappeared as I realized none of it mattered.

Months ago I also wrote about my inability to let go of the big picture. I was judging everything I did on the grand scale of “Life?, as if every decision would make or break my future, and every move would reflect on the man I want to be. I railed against myself for being unable to focus on the here and now, the events that were happening around me. And so I abandoned that perspective; I cut off my mind from contemplating on my life, from focusing on what I wanted to be and how I would get there. All that mattered any more was what I was going to eat that day, what was coming on TV, what assignments were due this week.

As you can see, I merely substituted one extreme for another. Standing there in that bookstore, moving from one book that intrigued me to another, and being unable to choose which one I wanted to read first, I realized what a fool I’ve been. This is what I want from my life. To be happy I need to do what I am passionate about, to be surrounded by books and ideas, to work on creating them, putting them out there, and talk about them.

When I first started seriously thinking about getting a job, and figuring out what exactly I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I came up with the idea of publishing for exactly these reasons. But I was so scared of being rejected that I never went through with even a single application. I applied for jobs I really didn’t care for; jobs in finance, marketing, consulting but never in publishing. Not even one.

Because if I didn’t get that, then I really didn’t know what to do.

How stupid am I? Seriously?

I love books. I really, really do. I love the ideas that they contain, and in part that is what draws me most to them. The discussion and discovery of ideas is what made me briefly (very briefly!) think I wanted to be an academic. But I couldn’t understand why I didn’t attack my Anthropology readings with the same gusto as I did an Isaac Asimov novel, or even Jared Diamond’s excellent “Guns, Germs and Steel” (which I highly recommend). They all share similar ideas, on mankind and its capabilities, of how we got to where we are, and of where we are going. But the only time I was any good at the academic stuff was when I could use a book I had read on the subject. Like when I used a book on philosophy, Jean Auel’s “Earth’s Children”  series, and several books by Diamond to work for an Anthropology paper. The result of this happy confluence of sources was a term paper I was extremely proud of, and a very suspicious professor who thought my material was too good be original (he ended up giving me an ‘A’, after much convincing)

So will I be once again disappointed with a job in publishing as I am with most things? Will my expectations be too impossibly high to satisfy? Maybe, but it will sure as hell be better than this.

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