Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fire

"She is a living, breathing, booming woman
Sent here with a mission, a purpose, a spark...
She is here to inhale pain
And exhale fire."
- "She is Not" by Sarah Harvey

I knew this would happen, but I didn't know how long it would take. It took a month. I've been in Oregon for a solid month now, and I'm starting to feel antsy.

It doesn't help that most of my work is computer-based now - reading, writing, data analysis. I spend the whole day sitting. And my condition is most certainly exacerbated by the fact that I recently started reading the memoirs of Philip Glass, one of the people whose work I admire the most. Glass is in my mind the greatest composer who ever lived. I'm reading about his life at home, then coming to the lab to read scientific papers, and I have this itch, this spark, this small fire starting inside of me. I want to get up, get out, see, and explore. I want to discover something new, change the world for the better. More than anything, I want to do something important, something worthy of my own memoir.

I actually read a lot of biographies. I enjoy them far more than novels, and I think that's because I know the person I'm reading about is real. I just love knowing the stories behind their accomplishments, seeing how they arrived at their discoveries. Often the road there is more exciting than the discovery itself.

I once explained to a friend that I like biographies because I live with the illusion that someday I'll accomplish something great, something worth recording. But I told him that even if I don't end up getting there, if I live my life the way I want to, I'll at least end up with a great story.

And so I sit at my desk, analyzing data, assimilating information, the whole time burning inside. I want nothing more than to get up and go find something incredible.

The irony is that the most incredible thing I'm likely to find is right in front of me, in that very computer I'm itching to get away from. I'm working on the data from my Svalbard settlement plates, and let me tell you, this data is cool. By the time I'm done with it, I'm sure I'll produce a valuable and important scientific report. It's just getting there that's the problem.

A bit of patience would do me good. Slow, deep breaths. Soon, I will exhale fire.

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