Sometimes when I take a few days away from the blog, I have nothing to say. Other times, like now, I have too much to say.
The conference was good, but different; different from the SOD conference in November. As my wife put it, there weren't so many ups and downs for me. I guess it's largely because I expect to feel like an outsider in [Field 2], although I was a welcomed outsider. At the SOD conferences I feel like an outsider within my home discipline, the field in which I trained for three degrees, like an returned exile, in spirit neither home nor away.
There was a memorial service for one of the three deaths I mentioned in November. It was quite touching. Remarkable the impact one scholar could have on a field and so many colleagues, young and old. I had lunch the following day with his widow, also a distinguished scholar in the field. She was unreserved in her "unsolicited advice," which I was most eager to accept. Her warmth was one of the main factors in my feeling of being a welcomed outsider.
The one time I met her husband in person was in her office about a year ago, when I gave an invited lecture to their department. It is a memory that will always stay with me. I have a feeling (and a hope) that she will continue to take an interest in my career path and research, and that she will continue to proffer "unsolicited advice" whenever possible.
What I have to take with me now, as I move ahead, is a sense that I really am on a path, even if it veers from the typical course for a scholar. There is a place for my work, though I recognize a need to focus more, to find my niche, to settle in it.
I'm still overwhelmed a bit by the flurry of thoughts that assault me. Today... I am 39. Who knows where I will be when I turn 40.
... I just have to say, right at this moment, before clicking "publish" the Painter called me on the telephone to sing me "Happy Birthday." Tears of joy flush my face. I am happy!