Colorless Green Ideas Unintentionally Amusing In Person
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Short Time On This Blue Marble
The Husband's grandmother died yesterday.
This, in itself, was not a tremendous shock, although she was in as-good health as one could reasonably expect of a 76-year-old woman (who’d had multiple strokes and wouldn’t quit smoking) just a week ago. And, really, given the likelihood of a complete recovery from the fourth-and-final-stroke last Friday, the fact that she died after only a few days in the hospital was probably for the best. But this fact is bouncing around in my head, bumping up against my mother’s recent cancer-diagnosis, and my sister’s recent engagement, and our thoughts about where we want to live, and how I still want to get a dog, and it’s making me wonder… what is it that’s really important to me?
If my career is really important, then we will probably need to move to a bigger city, because there is a fairly limited amount of upward movement I can manage at my current job, and, if I really, truly, want to start a brand-new cultural/historical museum, my chances would be much better in California, in San Francisco or Los Angeles. But if I really want a house, and a yard, and a kid or two, then staying at my current job (or at least with my current employer) and sticking around Portland would be a better idea, because I do like my job, and the friends we have here form a great social/familial network, and we could afford to buy a decent house with a decent yard in a decent neighborhood here. I know that I don’t necessarily have to chose definitively—career or family? House or museum?—but I have a feeling that I should pick a focus, because I know that one of the recurring dangers of life is neglecting to chose an option, and consequently not getting very far with anything.
I have a feeling that ultimately, when I’m old and gray, that I will find children and pets and a place I was happy in, more satisfying than a career, with no kids or pets and an apartment that never felt like my home. It’s possible that this makes me shallow, or lazy, or at least insufficiently ambitious, but I know from past experience that my feelings about where I live are very important to my overall happiness, and I know that I am happier and more comfortable with myself now that I have a cat (in addition to my husband) to ooze affection on. By extension, I suspect that I would find significant personal satisfaction in having a house I was comfortable and happy with, and more pets to love, and perhaps a baby to parent. And, yes, it would be nice to have a wildly satisfying job as well, but I think that the smaller, more personal satisfaction of a happy child might, in the grand scheme, be more important to me.
Which if fine, and is achievable, and it’s good to consider these things, because, ultimately, life is pretty short, and I would hate to spend too much of the precious short time I have focused on things other than the ones most important to me. And, now that I’m thinking about it, the things that are the most important to me are the people and the love.
I have to give a presentation tomorrow at the all-staff meeting. This is not the kind of thing I do well, generally. I can act, yes. (Well, arguably, but we won't go into that right now...) That does involve getting up in front of people you don't know and doing something coherent, and not just standing there like a deer caught in the headlights of a semi hurtling down the road at 80mph, ready to smear your senseless brains all over the highway, true. But I'm not going to be acting tomorrow. Acting, in a legitimate theatrical performance, involves lights and costumes and lines, and, most importantly, a character. When I'm acting, it's not really me up there, it's someone else. But tomorrow at the meeting, it will be me. And I am no good at presentations. My only hope is to catch something life-threatening before tomorrow at 4pm...