A few weeks ago, I ordered a copy of "Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution," by Michael Rubin. It arrived a little more than a week ago. I spent a night or two finishing up my first ever reading of "Catcher in the Rye." Then I dug in.
Recently, I had an off-blog discussion with my friend Tracy. We reflected on how our state in life has an impact on how we view other people and events, how we take comments and criticism. I recall my sometime motto: everyone who got where they are, started where they were. Indeed. I realize that I am at a point where what speaks to me reflects the voice I have suppressed, which is seeking its release.
Today, I am taking inspiration from the stories of Francis Coppola and George Lucas. The reasons why they are inspiring me have much to do with where I am in life, and where I wish to go. Today, I am taking back my life, reclaiming my voice, allowing myself to dream with confidence. I shake off the past couple years of waiting.
Another point of Friday's coaching, which I didn't mention in my earlier post, was a question Paul posed to me at one point: what are you angry at yourself for?
Angry? at myself? Hmmm. I talked... but I couldn't quite put a finger on it. Was I angry at myself? It's part of Paul's style to ask questions like that, when I seem stuck, at an impasse. What was I angry with myself about?
He ventured: I have a suspicion that you're angry at yourself for waiting.
Hmmm. I had mentioned that much of the past couple years my modus operandi was to draft up abstracts for conferences, send them off, and wait. They were projects I had some commitment to, but also ones that I thought might appeal to that audience. If I got the green light, I went ahead with the work, and prepared a talk. If not, for the most part, I dropped it.
I did the same thing with job applications, sending off bits of myself, and waiting for a green light to develop that part of me. I tried to envision myself filling out the role defined by some committee or dean. In honesty, I never fully gave up myself: I encapsulated my interests in cover letters, and revealed it in my CVs. No one was buying. I worked harder to sell, chiseling away at my self, wanting some fish to bite, forgetting that trout was what I had a hankering for, not snapper.
Last night, I reflected with my wife that I didn't regret completing my PhD, writing my dissertation. But that, somewhere along the path, I had lost my voice, my passion, my drive, my confidence. Rocket said, she thought it wasn't so much in writing the dissertation, nor in being a grad student, that it happened. But in the time since, along with applying for jobs.
She said most all of the grant and fellowship applications, and much of the conference abstracts, and papers that I had worked on as a graduate student were true to me, reflected my interests. But since finishing the dissertation, my focus has been on finding a job. And the rejection has sapped my confidence, has reduced me to becoming more them, and less me--which, frankly, I'm not any good at, being them.
We talked about research, and about practical applications. I was excited, engaged. There was my voice. I heard it speaking again. Let me use it to succeed. Go to my strengths. Confidence and drive. This will come.