every once in a while, a visual metaphor for living inserts itself into my consciousness. today’s was a mechanical pile driver, forcing some otherwise strong metal beam deep into the earth. clank-clank-clank-clank-clank-clank-clank and so on.
i used to think that life was occasionally like running across an ever-eroding, ever-narrowing precipice of earth and stone, giving way under each footstep until the only thing left to do was fall into the dark. it’s possible that this is also the case.
i was last a student just over eleven years ago. after my father passed away, my life spooled up into marriage, parenthood, homeownership, corporate employment, and myriad other responsibilities that were at odds with whatever scheduling would be required to pull off the completion of my degree. my daughter is nine, my marriage is over, and my career has left me feeling empty and stagnant.
today i enrolled in some classes with an eye on finishing my degree, finally. i never considered it a prerequisite to a career. the career i’d chosen for myself didn’t really need any schooling, luckily or unluckily. a Philosophy degree was, in a sense, a luxury i didn’t particularly need to survive. how quintessentially white of me. billions around the world would wish for the means to have a college education, and here i was considering it ‘unimportant’.
for a long time, i’ve felt that web development – the thing i’ve been doing for 15 years or so – was deeply unsatisfying, on a visceral level. the ephemeral nature of the thing only presents itself after a long time. long enough to watch the cycles repeat. there is no permanence in programming. nothing lasts. if you’re lucky, something you build with 200 hours of your life might stick around for 2-3 years. if not, somebody else will replace it without even telling you it’s going to happen. there is nothing like civil engineering, carpentry, craftsmanship, or governance that allows the person who programs for a living to create something that will last.
this is ok. at least i have music to try to put something into the world that will enrich somebody somewhere. i know it enriches me.
i can’t be a programmer my whole life. i’ve never had the peculiar intellectual bent that gave me the desire to create sites or applications with my free time. i envy that in others, but have never been able to find it for myself.
i have decided that of all possible professions, i should be a teacher. this makes sense to me. i was raised by a teacher and a computer guy. i’ve been a computer guy. i don’t want to be that anymore.
i believe that life can be what you want it to be. that ultimately with enough desire, with enough effort, and with enough compromise, that all things are possible. this is at odds with the feeling of being driven into the ground, or of falling from such great heights. i know that. it is this hope at odds with the belief that everything falls eventually that makes me carry on.