Thursday, March 2, 2023

On the cusp of school’s spring break (next week), and almost caught up with everything so that the week can be a genuine break.

Then emails and texts arrive with work-fires to try to extinguish. In years past, this sort of thing would have really driven me a bit crazy. Now, having only a year of this “interim Chairperson” thing behind me, and knowing that my time at work is limited to only a few remaining semesters, I see these issues as irritants, rather than crises. I do question many things that come my way these days; and even more so the motivations of others who seem to have completely lost perspective on just plain getting their work done.

It seems clear that some folks only look to ask questions, and truly do not want to come to conclusions about how to move forward with things they wonder about. The curiosity of researchers, for instance, which sometimes lead to paths of inquiry can only lead to insights if they are willing to take steps along a path, continuing to pursue the path. There are those who seem afraid to choose which step to take next, fearing that choosing one step’s direction will cut off too many other possible directions–so better to never take any step at all. This, clearly, just leads to a kind of decision-paralysis which makes any of the options one faces in life an enormous challenge.

I recently heard a podcast which, in part, discussed the issues surrounding perfectionism. And perhaps this–a perfectionist’s traits–are what lead some into research in the first place. That is, having a sense that the only important thing about inquiry is the asking of questions; not recognizing that the act of research is only concluded when the “asker” reveals some conclusions synthesized from the discoveries found through questioning.

This is truly fascinating to me, likely because I have difficulty with a perspective that truly believes that “perfect” is something that can be reached, rather that one only pursues. That is, that our pursuits are all practice.

Alas, a decision-paralyzed person not only finds themselves unable to move forward, but stymies any progress in those with whom they must collaborate. And there’s the source of today’s rub, though it’s been clearly brewing for many months now. I don’t yet know how to put out today’s fire, but am hoping that a conversation I’ll have in a few hours offers a clearer path forward.