My friend Omar has a millwork and art workshop where he spends a large part of every day. He says “When I am here, I am happy, and people love my work and thank me for it,” and I envy his non-conflict about his work. In academia we don’t have all the autonomy he has, or do not know how to take it; it is also true that we are expected to be conflicted about work and that this does no good since there are enough real problems without creating additional ones.
This weekend I stayed in. Saturday I read a whole book for research and personal purposes and it took me twelve hours and was refreshing. Today I organized papers and notes for research purposes and began to feel happier and happier, even though I ostensibly did not make a great leap forward and I did not do anything Fun, and even though I was doing this because I did not feel like preparing classes or writing letters of recommendation, which I really needed to do. Nonetheless I began to feel just like Omar: “When I am here, I am happy.”
I had this interesting conversation with Jonathan. He says, “If it is hard work just to live inside your own head, then there is not much left for anything else.” Interestingly, it was Reeducation that made this so hard for me. Before, I was like Herrigel’s archer, not thinking of myself or the target, only the arrow and the bow. Reeducation did not understand the lack of emphasis on self and feeling, and considered it a problem but it was in part cultural difference (Reeducation was very Western and Christian, and I was unfamiliar with its discourse and did not recognize it but tried, now too hard and not in a Zenlike way, to assimilate).
Do I like what I do? Yes, if I allow myself to be there and do it.