Friday, April 04, 2008

I believe in the power of ideas.

I'm optimistic about the ability of big ideas to make the world a better place. Hence my plan to pay my dues, get a Ph.D and teach, becoming one of those professors that make you re-think your whole world during college. I was willing to endure the pain of graduate school, the uncertainty of adjunct professorship, the stress of tenure-track assistant professorship...because at the end of the day, I would be up there in the ivory tower, wallowing in knowledge, changing the world with big ideas.

Then my wife came home one day early in her internship as a social work grad student. She was excited, and she proceeded to tell me about how she'd spent the afternoon collecting a newborn from the hospital and taking him to meet his adoptive parents for the first time. It occurred to me right then that she'd just brought about more good in the world in one afternoon than I was likely to accomplish during a lifetime in academia. Don't get me wrong; I have nothing but the deepest respect for those select individuals who dedicate their lives to pursuing knowledge and teaching others. For me, though, my spot in the ivory tower seemed a lot less important than just being gainfully employed in order to support my wife in the good work that she does on a daily basis (social work, it may astonish you to know, is not the most lucrative career choice). Maybe my vocation should be less about my accomplishments as an individual, and more about my role as a supportive spouse. If nothing else, that's a big idea I can believe in.

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