Writing these blog posts is right up there in my list of “aimless activities I have undertaken.” 🙂
The way I grew up, things had to have a purpose. “Why?” had to be answered in an acceptable way, showing a serious line of rational thought leading to an explanation. In short, the formal definition of argument — a line of reasoning leading to a conclusion.
Even when I was a kid, nothing was aimless except running in the woods, sledding between the trees, oil painting in the basement, novels read in the shade of the house, sitting on the floor of my room with a typewriter writing “poetry.”
All the stuff I really liked was aimless.
Flash forward to being a grownup. During the years I was teaching everyone all the time, employing a relentless attention to the way things had to be done for my students and on the odd chance I’d get tenure, I was grateful for the Sundays when everything was done and I could just…
Do whatever I wanted — running in the hills with dogs, painting in the garage or shed, writing novels and reading history.
After godnose how many years, I finally got a summer off and found that all I wanted to do was, uh, whatever I wanted to do.
As time passed, and I failed to achieve the markers that illustrate success in reaching life’s purpose — long-lived marriage, children, TENURE — my philosophical perspective began to shift. Life no longer looked like something that would “get me somewhere” but something of its own, something in its own right. And what was that?
By failing to get get the brass rings strewn along life’s way, I’d achieved the right not to answer any more “Why?” questions, even from my own conscience. There’s nothing to “get.” The trophies are bits of screwed together metal and plastic. The people who got tenure had to go to a lot of meetings, even if they taught less and made more money. This isn’t sour grapes, though I can’t deny I’d have liked tenure and the money that went with it; it would have made my life easier back in the day. Still, I have a hard time imagining how it could have turned out better for me because now I get to do whatever I want.