what I assume you shall assume

3/26/09

Dear Diary,

Today was a Thursday. That used to mean lots of parties when I was at the University of North Carolina, but now it means one more day of child care before the weekend. I’m getting more and more used to it, but the concept of the vast weekend hours stretching out before us is still a little scary. In reality, we have lots of fun and Lucy is an absolute dream, but by Sunday night we are all pretty tired.

I see all these commercials about TGIF and how Wednesday is “hump day” and how Garfield hates Mondays and loves lasagna, but I gotta tell ya, Diary, we’re kinda living that backwards right now.

Speaking of which, I’ve had a few career things come up, things here in the Hollywood business that would otherwise be fantastic news… but simply scare me. I’m not sure if I want that much responsibility. I have grown and cultivated my little island here, and now I’m not sure if our Dream Job is even in my dreams anymore.

Oh Diary… I keep thinking about that paragraph I have pinned to the wall upstairs, about men’s waning desire to succeed and their productivity going way down after the birth of their first child. The article explains that the costs of competition start dwarfing the benefits of aggressive behavior, but couldn’t the explanation be a little simpler?

Maybe men stop trying so hard after they get into their late thirties because the game itself stops having meaning. By then, they have seen success, maybe even drunk from its chalice a few times, and found it lacked a certain profundity. Perhaps men finally have the spiritual maturity to admit they don’t really want what they’ve been after, and the courage to be okay with the ramifications of something so explosive.

Sure, I get it, we still need to put food on the table, to pay rent, to provide, but isn’t there a certain relief in downgrading your quest a little? It throws open the shades, crystallizes the opportunity to be a much more interesting person. Especially as an artist (if I may use that word, Diary), I think it’s exhausting to go your whole adult life without any separation between What You Do and Who You Are.

And despite all this, I still feel the pangs of wanting immense success, to be lauded with my wife as saviours of the genre, to return home conquerors. Very well then – like Whitman said – I contradict myself. And Whitman wrote that in his late thirties.

I don’t know. Perhaps the existential maw is like the tides at the Bay of Fundy, or that quicksand that opened up when you played “Pitfall” – at regular intervals, you simply have to grapple with meaninglessness, before moving on to ecstasy.

Oh, and today I pruned the orange tree and cleaned off those lawn chairs that were getting yucky. I also moved the next door neighbor’s plant over a few feet so it stops blocking all the light. I think that’s about it, Diary. Oh, and we had pasta with pink vodka sauce for dinner.

0 thoughts on “what I assume you shall assume

  1. GFWD

    Dear Diary,
    ” . . . oh yeah, and dook lost in the NCAA tournament, so at least I’ve got that going for me . . . which is nice.”

    Reply
  2. Greg T.

    I felt the same way a few years back, but notice that most of the old drive has returned. I dunno. Congrats on the big (scary) opportunity!

    Reply
  3. kevin from NC

    Some may remember i recently closed my business. I have been spending some time at home as I reflect on my next professional life….I have an opportunity that could allow me to ‘reach for greatness’ and create something special. It would likely require a lot of travel.
    But like Ian, I am drawn closer to home….and i don’t have kids. Why not work with some local creative people be it in the kitchen or the shop? I have gone out in the career world and didn’t get anything fulfilling from it.
    Of course, there is that retirement issue…. k

    Reply
  4. Lindsay

    Nah, it’s just the feeling of karmic contentment talking. If Karl Hess had found a way for dook* to win, you’d be at the top of your aggro game today.

    Reply
  5. emma

    I really can’t believe that Pitfall looks so ancient – I thought that was the coolest, most modern video game ever back in the 7th grade.
    People’s priorities change – I think it is all a function of growing up.
    Three cheers for Nova!!

    Reply
  6. Neva

    I think the reason this is interesting is that it is happening to men now. What you’re describing is a find they readjust priorities after kids. Now that men need/want more of a role with their kids it makes sense that they struggle with the same issue.
    Working with troubled kids now though I see just how important it is for parents to have a real relationship with their children. Accomplishing greatness at the expense of your children is worth reconsidering. Ian, I would suggest that what you have developed with Lucy is the most important thing you will ever accomplish and something to be very proud of. You know the old saying about people on their death beds never wishing they had spent more time at work right?

    Reply
  7. Neva

    Sorry, mistype above. Second sentence was supposed to be two sentences. one about educated women who have careers before kids adjusting priorities afterward. Anyway….
    Did anyone notice I’m still on top in the pool!!

    Reply
  8. Lee

    it’s funny, too, about that week being backwards thing. I feel the same way! It’s so twisted b/c I have a GREAT time on the weekends with our daughter but I get scared about the vast amount of time and what if I just don’t feel creative and it’s all just really hard? I feel that way esp as we enter another 75% chance of rain all &^*%ing weekend! is it just feeling tired and being afraid of not being able to be creative? or rather, the feeling you will be punished for not being creative? ha!

    Reply
  9. Joanna

    I sympathize with Ian when I consider returning to work. I’ve adjusted to and even usually enjoy the long days with kids. And, as Neva points out, I know I’ll never regret spending time with them.
    I’d already satisfied my ego with education and professional life before having kids, but never found my calling. So, why would I return to work? To have my merit measured by a pay check or an “exceeds expectations” on my quarterly review? As it is, I can read what interests me and interact with stimulating people. Once both kids are in school, I imagine I’ll find more satisfaction in volunteering or mastering an elusive yoga pose than landing some prestigious position.

    Reply
  10. Caitlin

    Just to offer a contrarian view, I think that saying that people don’t go to their deathbeds wishing they spent more time at work doesn’t always apply. Especially if you’re working on something that you feel really passionate about and think could make even a small difference in the world.
    I’m a parent and I’ve definitely tempered my ambitions since my daughter was born. But I sometimes miss what I’ve given up.

    Reply
  11. Joanna

    I don’t think anyone would disagree with you, Caitlin. As I said, I never found my calling. Weighing my options would certainly be more challenging if I had.

    Reply
  12. Salem

    Ian,
    Lord knows I don’t have the answers, but I think you couldn’t be in a better place to make this decision. Fuck, when the alternative to “their” opportunity is YOUR dream, I’m thinkin’ they make your dream come true, or they don’t get our Ian & Tessa. When you can walk away, opportunities seem to chase you down.
    P.S. If this opportunity requires an assistant, and comes with an unlimited budget….scratch my first thought. When do I report for work.

    Reply
  13. T.J.

    Did anyone else think Nolan Smith’s (I think it was him) “steal” with three seconds to go in Duke’s humiliation was low class? I’m glad the basket was waved off.

    Reply

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