February 10, 2008

Back to work

The Chinese New Year is almost over, and now I don't know when the next break is. Ten years ago I became an English teacher by default, and ran on the illusion that the entire educational economy in Taiwan was primarily a system to provide me with $$$ and a reason to stay sober before nightfall. I hardly worked at all until I was I was over 30, and when I finally buckled down, about five years ago, to pull myself out of various increasingly bad situations, I worked really hard at a job in which I had very little confidence.

I'm not a natural teacher. I'm not a people person, nor entirely comfortable on stage. Each class used to be a battle between my 'true nature' and events as they unfolded, and so I disliked teaching, and hated myself for what I'd become.

But now things are different. It has been a long process, and I'll keep slipping back to incompetence and doubt, because it's on the edge of those that exhilaration and forgetfulness thrive, the ability to overcome the self and experience the work as something that happens through me, not by me. To do this required years of practice to get enough tacit skills to function smoothly within a loose framework. And even with all that, I don't often rise above the level of basic professional competence.

Last night I was IM'ing a friend in London and whose life is almost entirely opposite to mine. Whatever his problems are, I'm living the answer, and vice versa. Together we've got it made, although it's clear that, as a professional writer, he's been the more faithful and courageous with regard to his dream. The thing is, like Sisyphus I've learned to love my rock, and how much this is good and how much this is bad is something I don't know if it's worth thinking about. This is either the wisdom or the compromises and narrowing dreams that come with age, but even through the form of my ambitions didn't play out as planned the content is doing fine.

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