(Twenty years, me and this watch.)
This year has seen quite a lot of change. It’s hard to quantify just how much change, but here goes.
One: This has, by far, been the hardest year of my life. While traveling this past week my wife and I have come to realize that in many ways I’ve been going through a grieving period. Like something died and I’m struggling to come to grips with it. In many ways, that’s very true. I didn’t know what I was getting into last summer when I quit my teaching job, moved across the country with no connections and just my family. So in a lot of ways I’ve been grieving for my old life throughout the year.
Two: As a result of this grieving process, I’ve focused deeply on the new stories I want to write and that begins with how I portray myself in finding a new job: a creative craftsman. A big source of inspiration in the last year has been the work of Cal Newport.
Three: As a result of focusing deeply on the stories I want to tell I’ve come to realize that helping people tell their story is at the root of everything I’ve done for the last eight or so years. Probably longer.
Four: That became especially evident while researching academic advising as a direction for my career to go in and how, as Peter Hagan wrote, you’re doing this:
- What is the “narratological advisor?” Three basic things would make you a better teller of tales.
- Constantly increase your storehouse of stories.
- Recognize the primacy of stories in advising.
- Take to heart and keep ever before you the narratological quandary posed by Yeats in the epigram that began this article. It will keep you humble. [Which is]:
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
Five: As a result of diving into the foundations of narrative advising and academic advising, I read Jenny Bloom’s book—Appreciate Advising Revolution. In it I read about the victim/creator roadmap and realized exactly what it is that I’ve been going through. And got help. My wife wrote recently about it, so probably the biggest thing I learned this year was that like going to the doctor every six months to get your health checked you should also do the same thing for your mind. Making a drastic change like this will inevitably do some damage on your body and mind. So get help.