Holiday Update

What a busy fall… Unfortunately, it’s become normal and perhaps even desirable to be busy in today’s world. Still, I resist. I relish free mornings and nothing to do on Friday nights. That being said, it’s hard to think of a better adjective than busy to describe my fall. Here are a few scattered updates:

I finally like D.C.

It took me a year and a half but I’ve settled in. I’m growing to appreciate the unique culture, people, and places of Washington, D.C. More importantly, I’ve connected with a group of misfits in the area. This patchwork community includes ultimate frisbee players, people I knew in Chiang Mai, grad student friends, colleagues, and housemates. If I’m honest, the largest category is people I knew in Chiang Mai – most notably of whom is Dan, a law student at GW, who lived in Chiang Mai for two years and left about the same time. He and I get together just about every week, go to various lectures together, and discuss books. It’s refreshing to have someone like Dan who knows my Chiang Mai and D.C. selves.

Ideas are the stuff of life.

It’s no coincidence that I’m back in university instead of working in a “real job.” There’s something in my core that thirsts for spaces where I’m constantly engaging with a host of ideas and perspectives. It’s likely that part of my subconscious believes a “real job” will strip me of being able to spend a couple hours a day reading various articles, books, and essays. At GW, I had a great semester of coursework in predictive designs, qualitative methods, and HRD along with my work as a graduate assistant. I also worked on a couple of academic projects in my free time. I am privileged and grateful.

At NIDA in Bangkok

At NIDA in Bangkok

Mid-semester break to Asia.

A cancelled conference in Macau turned into a fun mid-semester break to Asia. Since my tickets were purchased, I was able to go on the trip to Macau, Hong Kong, and Thailand anyway. This allowed me to spend time with my girlfriend Khai and meet amazing scholars at the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) in Bangkok. This was my first trip back to Asia after leaving in August, 2014. I’m planning to return again in March.

With Khai in Macau

With Khai in Macau

What an exciting time to live.

Another sign that I’m embracing the life of D.C. is that I’ve become fully immersed in many of the issues of the times: race, police brutality, religion, political correctness, politics, and more! I’ve been reading with a voracious appetite and am having some awesome conversations. I love striking up conversations about current events! I’ve subscribed to a variety of news outlets, and I’ve read some amazing books. I can’t pick a favorite but I loved The Wayfinders by the anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis. See the tab “What I’m Reading” for a full list of books I read this fall. I’m also currently reading a novel called Revolutionary by Alex Meyers (thanks Aki S.) about a woman who dresses as a man and joins the revolutionary war. Meyers brings his unique perspective as a transgender man in a way that illuminates the lived experiences of the protagonist.

To live simply.

I live in a basement in an old row house 15 minutes from the metro in the Park View neighborhood. I ride my bike to work and enjoy the fresh air. I am in a relationship with a remarkable woman. I am filled with gratitude. Recently, I had the chance to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. I was reminded of the enduring struggle for civil rights and the vital necessity of movements like Black Lives Matter. As a straight, white, American, educated male, I am the beneficiary of immense privilege in this society and world. I choose not to ignore that reality and seek to learn more everyday how privilege affects my life and the lives of others. My hope for this new year is to use my life to serve others, live simply, keep growing, and work to make the world a place where all people are treated with respect and compassion.

National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN

National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN

With Love,

Ozzie

2 Comments on “Holiday Update

  1. Your “Ideas are the stuff of life” section was interesting to me. I’ve got to assume that even if you were to get a “real job,” you’d do something in academia … so I thought I’d ruffle some feathers:

    Dan Andrews has talked on various podcasts about his desire “to spend a couple hours a day reading various articles, books, and essays” and like most people he thought going into academia would allow for this. But after looking around he decided that it was just too long a timetable to get to where he wanted to be and decided that entrepreneurship would allow him to do the same things more quickly.

    I recently read an article called The Secret Lives of Professors, which talks about how the life of a professor isn’t what he thought it would be. (He now works for Google.)

    I doubt I’m going to convince you of anything; just sharing some perspectives.

    Like

    • Thanks for this, Brad. I don’t know if I’ll be a professor but that’s where I’m heading for the time being. At the same time, I’m not attached to that. Here’s a couple points in response. As Welsh says in the last paragraph, his experience is not going to be the same as everyone else’s. The experience of a professor changes depending on the type of university, field/discipline, university culture, and most importantly on what you want to get out of it. If you want to be at the top of of the academic ladder as a Harvard professor that’s going to require a lot of the intense (and extrinsically motivated) work that Welsh talks about. Pretty much all of Welsh’s complaints about the life of a professor could be said about the lives of people in industry, and maybe worse! Living in DC, I know plenty of people in industry of various kinds and entrepreneurs who spend hours upon hours on their jobs, working their way up some ladder of career advancement (or just trying to make ends meet). Most of the time they don’t even like what they’re doing for most of the day. They go home at night, eat, go for a run, and then do more email. There’s always more email. Everything is about the job (and you better believe they’re spending a lot of time in useless meetings, facing rejection, and if they’re a manager they are looking out for those underneath them). Everything is about keeping up some appearance or buying into someone else’s idea of success. The ultra focus on work changes how they live their lives because their lives have become about their work. When they meet people they funnel those interactions through a work lens (i.e. how is this person going to help me in my career? And trust me, it’s annoying and obvious being on the receiving end of that!!!) Everything is competition. The way I see it, some jobs may be more likely to allow you do things like read and explore ideas than others, but no job – not being a professor at Harvard or an engineer at Google – will always do that. And any job could devolve into an endless rat race if you let it. You mentioned that entrepreneurship allowed Dan Andrews to do those things “more quickly.” That’s great! Glad he found something that works for him! That also implies that he isn’t happy where he was. He was using his job as a means to an end instead of the end in itself. Most of the entrepreneurs I know personally are killing themselves trying just to make it. Maybe it’s an American problem – small business is tough here these days. For me, I LOVE my life right now. Today. I would say I’m living a sustainable, enjoyable, meaningful, fun, productive, and (I hope) largely ethical life. In that sense, I’ve already reached my goal, at least for today. There’s nothing more I’m racing after. I’m living the life I want, and I like it. At the same time I have personal goals to grow but that growth is also the end in itself. I don’t grow so that I can ______. The growth is the point, and I think that’s beautiful. I think that’s what it means to be human.

      Like

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