Today is the last day of 2016, and my last day in my 30’s.
It feels significant, somehow, turning 40.
Perhaps it’s because my love of history and my long background in collecting, buying and selling vintage goods. They’ve put me in the habit of organizing things into chunks of time: decades, centuries, eras. It’s a useful tool, even if a blunt one, since of course events and styles don’t come into and out of existence based on the turn of a calendar page. But the human mind looks for patterns existent in nature, which leads to the impulse to impose more precise ones on top of those, artificial even as they’re based on natural phenomenon. The calendar year traces the earth’s yearly rotation around the sun, and units of ten reflect the number of fingers we’ve used to count since our infancy.
As I enter my fifth decade of life, I’m looking forward to big changes. It’s been my habit generally to follow my whims, whatever sparked my interest and excited my imagination at the moment, wherever they’ve led, much as the Native Americans of the plains (which I’m reading about now) followed wherever the buffalo herds, fresh water, and new grasses led them. This free-spirit predisposition has given me a varied life, often an exciting one. But my tendency to take the short view has also hampered me in many ways, since pursuing a meaningful career, achieving larger goals, and making enough money to fund them usually demands strategic planning and sacrificing short term needs and desires. And the lack of long term strategy and planning has often severely frustrated my deeper desires for the former. Sometime luck smooths our way and facilitates our talents and passions, such as landing the right job, meeting the people who can help us, inheriting money or having the knack for making it, or hitting upon the right invention or idea which meets the need or captures the imagination of the public. But sometimes, we need to make our own luck in other ways.
I love what I do and pursue my interests as avidly as time allows, but I’ve found myself driven and bothered by a sense of ambition new to me. I suppose I’m one of those late bloomers, at least I hope so. I wish, no, need, to bloom. I’m not satisfied any longer cramming the pursuit of my deepest interests into the scraps of time left to me before and after the hours I’m busy making a living. Don’t get me wrong, I value what I do for a living: I believe I’ve done good, honest work, I’ve learned so much from my jobs, and I’m grateful for the opportunities. But I also believe I can accomplish some things more in line with my particular talents and passions if I impose more and much-needed discipline upon myself, and place myself in situations where I can meet others who share my passion for this kind of learning. I have so much learning to do, knowing only enough to realize I know so little.
So I’ve prepared for my return to academic studies and applied to many grad schools, casting my nets widely and ambitiously, waiting with baited breath to see what comes of it. My education is drawn out and rather piecemeal, but I’m hoping some great institution(s) of learning will do me the honor of finding my body of work, both academic and independent, compelling enough to place their faith in me. The last time I returned to university was one of the richest, most exciting, and most satisfying parts of my life, and I’m looking forward to my next immersion in learning with the greatest excitement.
In the meantime, I’m celebrating the turn of the year and of the next decade of my life quietly on a little camping trip, one of my favorite things to do. I’m feeling reflective so I’m not partying, which I’ve so enjoyed doing for past New Years’. I love carefree conversation, carousing a little, and dancing with my friends. But somehow, this feels like a different sort of occasion.
Happy New Year, my dear friends, family, and all of you who take an interest in my work. I thank you all sincerely, and with much love. I hope this year satisfies the deepest needs and desires of your minds and hearts.
~ Amy Cools