Tip 46: Life, the Universe, and Other Important Things

The Hemingway Conference was amazing. If you get the chance to go in 2012 to Michigan, you should show up. You’ll learn more than you thought there was to know. Much of it will be very useful and it might change the way you view the world.

I was set to write everything I heard, but when my plane touched down in the States, my mother was in ICU. I spent eight hours a day with her for eighteen days. Then she died.

My plan is to write a requiem here, even though Mother did not teach English or college.

But I wanted to post on something I realized this week and that I think is important.

I enjoy The Chronicle of Higher Education’s forums. There is a lot of interesting stuff there and people have the most interesting questions. I learn a lot about the academy in general and things that will help me in particular.

There are some fora that are all about helping you get an academic full-time tenure-track job. They are very useful.

However, some of the forumites believe that a ft tt position is more important than anything else. It trumps being with your children. It trumps being with your family. Tt jobs should never be left except for other tt jobs.

I disagree with that. Some things are more important than a job, even a cream-of-the-crop dream job.

My mother was 16 years older than me. She was one of my dearest friends for about 25 years. And she taught me, through her life, what was important.

My family, my spouse and sons, my parents and siblings, my nieces and nephew, are more important than a tenure-track position. Even one that allows me to work with graduate students and help prepare future teachers. Even one that caters to my desire to learn by paying for tuition and supporting extensive conference attendance.

If I, like my mother, am on my deathbed in 16 years, most of my students, no matter how influenced, will not be in mourning. They will be sad but remain essentially untouched.

My family, however, would notice my absence. They would miss my presence. They would remember me and weep. (No keening, though, since I found out this week that includes drinking the blood of the dead. None of that.)

I would like a ft tt job. I would love to have one where the full range of my interests and abilities was encouraged.

But there is no job in the world that could replace my family.

I am grateful for that fact.

If you have family, I hope that it is the same for you.

3 thoughts on “Tip 46: Life, the Universe, and Other Important Things”

  1. Beautifully said – and a nice dose of needed perspective. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

  2. I love reading your posts, your rubrics and your philosophy of ed. It
    all makes me want to be better.

  3. http://bit.ly/gyGCFH “Career Advice: Resetting Priorities” is relevant to this post.

    It’s been seven months since my mother died. Today. Thank you, Mom, for all the things you taught me and how much you loved me.

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