Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's been a long, long, long....

Today I find myself back in the throes of academic procrastination. I also, again, have faced up to the looming ogre of my potential. It's almost as though I'm having the deja vu, all over again. Walking down the stair to my humble cave, the play of the light and the smell of the fresh air through the door shifted me back at least 10-15 years (and it is a sign of my senescence that I can say that; a sign of my youth that it feels like an incredibly long time) to the time when I was only at this house on weekends; yet I have lived here pretty much full time for at least four, maybe five years. It troubles me that I can't grasp the exact time. Nonetheless, I drifted down the stairs to face my room, a-clutter with the detritus of my last few years of mental wandering, and I was a bit shocked. The differences between now and then were stark and immediately apparent; piles of cds, a tile floor where once lay a psychedelic carpet; a desk with multiple computers; mounds of clothing and books, vaguely packed but generally disarrayed. I suddenly thought, "nostalgia dies here".

Which is actually curious, because my uncle, for the majority of my youth, lived in this very room, whiling away hours between his college courses (taken in his forties) playing intense role-playing games on the early IBM clones, of which I still have the monstrous ram boards (what an art project yet to happen!!! I am going to make a family out of old ram chips...). But my space seems different; more vital, filled with newer, more used things; less feeling of moldy rot or decay (found on the bottom of computer desks of the era).

And so this brings me back to the notion of potential. The possibility for activity filling time is to me an incredibly valuable asset to have and to exploit. Yet I often find myself drifting through the time, stretching minute (in the sense of small) activities over hours of potentially useful time. Yet thinking back to those days, it is not just my lot to have spent hours doing nothing with a mind that could be doing so many things; my parents, my uncle, and who knows what other members of my genealogical tree have seen hours of their lives fly by with no added value remaining. Today I glanced at the posting on Google's Jobs site, particularly this post for Research Lead/Manager. Some friends had spotted it and actually thought of me as a good fit for such a role. Now, they don't have my resume in front of them, and they may have realized I haven't had the 7-10 years of management experience (though I did play the managerial role in high school, professionally, for money, for reals), but it is still really intriguing to me that I seemed a worthwhile candidate for these folks. While they aren't Brins and Pages, these folks are no dummies - one is a 23 year old entrepreneur and the other an MD/PhD student - so it makes me wonder, is that the potential I appear to have? The Google job sounds bloody cool - managing a research team while having the opportunity to "roll up [my] sleeves and get [my] hands dirty". Organizing a team, budgeting, interacting, evangelizing, for pete's sake...I wish I had it together enough to be the one for this job.

Yet, here I sit, on my throne, degreeless though not jobless, agonizing over a research summary that should take not more than 5 hours of solid work to complete. And I realize, the time is filled with potential - but I must be the mathematical plug and chug machine, the pac-monster of productivity, chomping on the bits of potential and spitting out the formed husk of product. Sounds easy, and I bet when I'm done, it will have been so (I cannot form that tense in any language properly, other than English...but I love it...). So anyway, until I figure out how to properly make temporal-hyperlinked text (half of what I wrote above was added post-hoc, and I'd love to be able to show it), I think for now I will turn my slowing burgeoning attentional resources towards the modest task of summarizing the state of research into resilience. A lovely, bouncy word, no?

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