A curious thing, ambition. It used to own me to the point of dictating every decision, great and small. As the textbook version of an A-type personality, the drive that my ambition fueled brought a lot of success, but also a good deal of hardship. Versatile in its ability to be both virtue and vice, ambition can be more of an anchor than a set of wings if not kept in check. I finally checked mine a few years ago, but only after the damage had already been done through its checking me into a brick wall. Sadly, brick walls are often the only things that get my attention, so I tend to believe that it was necessary.
May was a busy month. I defended a thesis, was awarded a masters degree, drove hither and yon to see family and friends, then hopped a plane and flew to England to have a couple pints with another group of friends (y’know, no big whoop). With June’s arrival, however, things stopped. June was miraculous. Glorious, even. I read actual books for actual recreation. I caught up on months of The New Yorker. I slept. These were all things I’d forfeited to one degree or another during the previous four months. In June and really for the first time in my life, I was able to put myself in neutral. I’d always glanced at neutral from fifth gear, thinking, “Oh, neutral. You lazy, freeloading bastard. How can you just sit there in the middle of the transmission doing nothing, you dirty dirty whore of a worthless gear?’ It turns out that neutral is a lovely gear once you get to know it. Being a dirty dirty whore has its perks, you see, and there are worse titles one can have for limited periods than ‘freeloading bastard’.
There’s a catch, though, per normal. I did such a bang-up job at doing nothing in June that halfway through July, I’m still trying to prime the engine in order to restart it so I can put my ass back in gear. Case in point: In two days I board a plane to Canada in order to present part of my research at The Big-ass Conference of Smart People Who Do Science Junk. 2008. Let’s talk about preparation for a moment. I didn’t touch anything until this past week. Even then, having waited until the last minute, do you have any idea how difficult it was to double-click on the electronic version of my thesis? I’d finish the first click then collapse into whining about having to click something again. Having finally managed to open the document, I began reading and was like, ‘What?! Wait a minute, I didn’t write this crap, there’s no….what the fuck is DNA?! And who put all this math in here?! Computers?!?!?!’ And the fact that this conference is in Canada isn’t lost on me, either. I need to be mentally prepared just to walk the streets! It’s no secret that Canadians drink Molson until they start killing without rhyme, reason, or mercy, and I’ve seen what moose can do to people. I once saw a dude try to feed a moose a carrot. You know what the moose did? He shot him. Moose* pulled a .45 out of his fanny pack and gunned the guy down, then got into the guy’s car and drove off with his wife. I’ve also seen Strange Brew and Canadian Bacon. I totally believe all the stereotypes.
So, yes. Having seemingly conquered my A-type zeal for the pursuit of perfection and success at all costs, it would seem that I now have to deal with my A-type zeal for the pursuit of allowing the hamster on the wheel in my brain to stop running, have a seat, and eat Twinkies until I’m a worthless pile of goo.
* I know what some people might be asking: ‘How do you know it was a Canadian moose? What, like, American moose don’t kill people, then drive off with their dead prey’s spouse?’ First of all, I know the moose was Canadian because the moose’s fanny pack had a flag with a maple leaf embroidered on it. And second of all, no. American moose allow time for the spouse to mourn before making their advances. I know this is true because Bullwinkle was an American moose and Bullwinkle had scrupples (he could also pull a rhino out of a hat), not to mention a flying squirrel as a friend and moral compass. If all else failed, I trust that Rocky would enforce discretion in a situation involving gunplay.
Sir @ July 19, 2008