When I was an undergrad I recall talking to one of my profs about some book that I was studying (I think it was on automata theory), something that (of course!) had nothing to do with the things I was supposed to be studying.  And in fact I often did not do well in my classes because I was always more interested in learning things other than the stuff on my academic agenda.  My curiosity would not be tamed!  While enthusiastically talking to this prof about this book I’d been reading, he interrupted me and said, “You should take care, because you have a tendency to go out in all directions.  This could be a problem for you.  If you want to make a name for yourself, you have to concentrate your efforts.”  Over the years I’ve had many occasions to reflect on this simple comment.  Oh Dr. Novosad, you were so right!

I assumed all along that at some point in my life I would “grow up” and settle down to a more conventional routine of interests and activities and lose my appetite for more and more diverse learning and experiences, but that has not turned out to be the case.  I’m almost 60 now and after all these years I’m still going out in all directions, still seeking all things imaginative, in whatever realm or discipline: art, music, literature, theater, sciences, math, computer sci, whatever.  I never felt that I belonged to any particular path or way or profession.  I’ve always wanted it all, to be able to know it all and to do it all.  But of course the harsh truth is that one can’t know it all and do it all.  So it has not been an easy life.  The vast majority of the things that inspire my curiosity and my creative efforts are things that are mostly useless, at least from the point of view of conventional careers, say, in business and commerce, so making a living has never been a very clear-cut path for me although I have managed to have a career of sorts in the data technology biz.  In current parlance oddballs such as myself are referred to as “mutants,” an appellation I would welcome because it seems an appropriate description of me.

Molly Crabapple said “The future belongs to multi-disciplinary mutants,” a sentiment that gives me hope. Whether the future really belongs to such folks (I count myself among them) I don’t know, but I would like to think that those of us who pursue lives of imagination, of openness and possibility, and who refuse to conform to a limited view of life, will play a larger role in the future of the world.  And even though I’m approaching geezerhood now I still want to live as if my future is open to unlimited possibilities, because for me that is the only way to live.

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