Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
I quite literally have no idea. Perhaps the wisest decision I made this year was to come to NYU for my sabbatical even after the fellowship opportunity that would have made being here a lot easier and more productive fell unceremoniously through. If that’s it, then it’s played out pretty well; I’m having a great time here, getting a good bit done, and feeling pretty positively about work and the world.
But. I started down the “come to NYU” path precisely because of this fellowship, which was exactly the right opportunity at that moment (and which falling-through there’s a longish and uglyish story about which I cannot detail here). And once it became clear, very late in the sabbatical-planning game, that the fellowship wasn’t going to happen, things had progressed so far down the road that not coming to New York would have been harder than just continuing forward. So it wasn’t so much a decision.
On top of which, prior to the get-fellowship-go-to-NYU sabbatical plan, the plan had been Paris. As in, pack up stuff and partner and go live and write in Paris for a little over a year. I’ve always wanted to live abroad, and this would have given me at least a temporary, subsidized shot at it. And I long to be fluent in French, and really think I’m about a year of living there away. There’s a lot from how this year has played out that I’d have missed if I’d stayed on that original path, absolutely. But then there’s Paris.
I don’t know. I could play this game with just about every decision I’ve made this year. Everything has involved difficulties and tradeoffs alongside the benefits. And nearly everything has required turning away from some other equally attractive — and sometimes more attractive — path not taken. But I am where I am, doing what I’m doing, and I have relatively few complaints about it. In fact, I love everything that I’m doing, and I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities to do it.
And perhaps just focusing on that is where wisdom lies.