I learned the word “sinecure” this semester.
Sinecure: a position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.
Now entering the second half of our Mitchell experience, I’m programmed to start looking for what’s next. I know I don’t want a sinecure. I also know that without attention uncertainty seeks security, which often comes clothed in complacency and comfort. I’m ambivalent about the idea that I’ll take something until “x” occurs; even though, I know such if-then logic is dangerous if my predetermined conditions never manifest.
When I seek out perspectives regarding my next steps, I often receive a variation of the following: “you have to strike the right balance…”
I don’t adhere to a teeter-totter notion of balancing my life. Note, some of that stems from being a husky child who no one wanted to play with since few kids enjoyed sitting in the air while I planted roots.
Really though, I don’t understand balancing work and life. Balance seems to imply placing ideas apart as counterweights to oppose, not support, one another. In this way, balancing seeks stasis through bridled nudging on multiple fronts, while being careful not to give too much on one out of fear it will take away from another. Given that time, energy, and attention are finite, spreading myself across mutually exclusive endeavors diminishes my ability to make meaning. I know I should instead seek significance on fronts that mutually support one another.
Just because I know doesn’t mean I do. My doubts, my desire for public validation, for a paycheck that provides comfort, all of these and more foster doubt, further separating my knowing from doing.
Ultimately, I’m not talented enough to balance my way to fulfillment. I really mean that; it’s not feigned self-deprecation/modesty. Thus far, the process of committing, not balancing, helped me toward “success.” Commitment looks like clarifying my expectations, placing my assumptions in front of me, questioning the legitimacy of my excuses, scheduling “by-whens” with actual people, not just myself, because for some reason, keeping our word to other people acts as a stronger incentive than keeping it to ourselves.
I shared my balance pontification with my buddy who told me to also abolish the idea of “busy”:
I never say I’m busy. To me, saying I’m busy says I’m out of control.
Busy implies a lack of order, unclear commitments—priorities/balance v. commitments. I don’t believe my idea of significance comes from “balancing” my profession and the rest of my life.
All of these are good problems. They are problems of privilege. Worries of an incredibly fortunate white kid who looks like a wannabe Backstreet Boy. When I spoke with one of my home-town buddies the other day, he reminded me of my privilege. He also offered me some plagiarized, tongue-in-cheek advice from a classic piece of cinema:
I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really, Ted. Get busy living or get busy dying.
The ironic reminder was appreciated.
Here’s to fortunate problems, getting busy being unbalanced, and making the most of the latter half of the Mitchell.