“I am not a mechanism”
“[E]veryone on [Mom’s] side of the family are writers, philosophers, and artists at heart. Most all have eschewed that for a life/career that resulted in a regular paycheck.”
The first quote is from D. H. Lawrence. The second is an excerpt of an email that I received from my brother while we were still getting to know each other (actually we are still engaged in that process). One of the things that I am struggling with right now is that I have in fact eschewed those very things for a career that has resulted in a regular paycheck. Along the way, I have neglected to feed that heart. If you allow me to think metaphorically, I have been quite deliberately closing off access to the very thing that keeps me alive-my heart.
I always knew that I had a certain facility for writing and philosophy, even if they became more of a hobby, an outlet, than a vocation. I didn’t think that I was an artist. But in all three cases, I didn’t seek out any opportunities to hone and develop those innate skills. Instead I went the technical route. I started out studying engineering. I switched majors believing that I couldn’t hack it as an engineer. The truth was I didn’t want to. So when I switched from the college of engineering to the college of arts and sciences (and later business school) I had 15 credits of math that I had forced myself through when I was only required by my new major to have 3. I didn’t really care that I knew so much about math, but it make me feel a little bit like a wunderkind when the TA was always looking to me to help my Stat 101 class answer questions from a calculus based viewpoint.
What I’ve learned though, is that whatever I have done since I have graduated, whether I have been a go-to guy or a cubicle gnome (or somewhere in between) has pretty much been complete drudgery. I went to college to get an education. What I got was two degrees that certify that I am an officially programmed mechanism. Maybe a mechanism that can perform at a higher level or more efficiently than others, but a mechanism none-the-less.
My brother may argue that he has eschewed the life of a writer, philosopher, and artist for a regular paycheck, but I think that his profession allows him a genuine connection with people. To be that writer, philosopher, artist on a one-to-one basis, even if no one else recognizes it.
Meanwhile, I am still standing on the banks of the river, dipping my toes in, hedging my bet. I need to cross the river, and toss away my paddle. Then if people say “You’re crazy, come back over here where it is safe,” I can squint my eyes and declare that it is too late, I have already crossed the Rubicon.
I am a writer. I am a philosopher. Yes, I am even an artist.
I am not a mechanism.