A new year began accompanied by the exploding sound of fireworks and drunken teenagers. Yet as the new day shows its face, it is a rainy grey that defines the new year’s first heartbeats. Is this what the year has to offer: Heaven in tears, clad in the most indifferent of colours?
Time is a really strange thing. We appear to exist as an interval, yet we have nothing else than this one moment. As illusions, or nightmares, our dreams pull us in different directions and our emotions push us away from others. Recently I rewatched the old Lord of the Rings trilogy as a reminiscence of younger, simpler times (…or times that were complicated in a different way…) or perhaps it was simply to ground the new TV series into the lore, the knowledge, I supposedly already had about Tolkien’s universe. Through the eras, Gandalf’s words ring true and break the fourth wall in response to our own responsibility: “… All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
But what is the best use of our time, of that constant one moment we experience?
For the past year, I have been close to morbidly unhappy with my work environment. In a meeting with Pyssling, a great friend from way back when who recently resurfaced into my life, I answered the “How’s work?” question with an “It’s been going steadily downwards.” It was kind of funny in a sort of dark comedy kind of way, but not so much so in a real-life kind of way. In fact, my current workplace leaves me questioning not only the professional ability of the place I work but my own sanity as a professional. Ignored and isolated, for over a year, I’ve asked myself why would they hire me if nothing I do is of any interest. Despite this lingering feeling of being the spare wheel in a car that’s been standing still for decades, I must admit that I was productive. I succeeded with my mission to publish something for each month of the year, I’ve networked and gained new collaborations (of course from other departments than my own) and, most importantly, I’ve been blessed with a life of comfort and freedom that allowed me to travel the world with Johnny Bravo, my family and as a solo traveller. Blessings that sets me apart from the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants and, living in a world in a financial crisis, I don’t take these luxuries lightly.
But in a time that exists only as a moment, these past experiences change nothing. A new year dawned and the question still rings true: what should I be devoting my time to? The discomfort of searching for a new professional position, meaning certain rejection and the possible reclamation to a new setting? Or should I pursue the finer things in life: art, friendship, fun and love?
Frankly, I don’t think I would even know what that would mean. The almost competitive environment of academic pursuits defines me in a way I am not sure I am truly comfortable with. High pursuits come with success, but also at a price. In my current position, all my hard work has been worth an iota and as I sat with the new boss, he reprimanded me for my productivity as not being the mission of our department. It was bizarre to listen to a business professional lecture me about the workings of academia and I could feel my face twitching in anger. A change has been needed for a very long time, now more than ever. But what does that change look like?
I have had little time, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I have had no inspiration, to write. Paintings are restricted to the few gifts I’ve given and I wonder if should I allow myself to drop in academic accomplishments to foster another dimension of my creativity. But then again I have asked myself this for decades, and here I stand with this type of personality. Clearly, I have made my decision.
In a week I am heading to Bolzano to collaborate with Don Quijote and his team. I am looking forward to returning to a professional environment that I can recognize and identify with.