Born to Burn?

I’ve been watching a lot of lectures about education lately, and there’s a common theme to answer a common question: How can I keep myself from burning out?

The answer is always a variation of “work harder” or “work smarter.”

This, I’m afraid, is simply insufficient. There is no amount of working harder or working smarter that can make the work we’re doing any less exhausting–and this applies to all areas, whether you’re a student, a teacher, healthcare provider, or something else.

So what can we do?

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Mark My Words

November 8, 2012

I’ve been struggling a long time to figure out what I want to do with my life. I used to joke I had my life planned through graduation this past May. It wasn’t until August and September came that I realized how much I had relied upon this plan–and how much I lacked the direction to proceed since then.

I’ve been journeying this winding path for weeks. I’ve taken personal inventories and gone to job interviews and spoken with advisors and friends about what I’m doing–and none alone has given me more help than my closest friend. She told me flatly that I’m fooling myself. That I’ve always known what I want to do. That I’m just thinking too much.

Well, maybe I have thought too much. But now my thinking is over.

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The Julia-Mandelbrot Love Child

First and foremost I am a man of ideas. I have always been a man of ideas and I presume I shall always be a man of ideas. As such, I am of this nature easily inclined to fall in love with an idea, to infatuate myself in concepts and theories, to indulge in the orgasmic philosophies of imagination and the perpetuation of thought itself.

As such, I am also of the nature of put into things more thought than one might deem reasonable for the affair. I consider at length where I’ll spend my money, how I will spend it, and what will remain after it’s spent. I can spend days on end merely considering which movies, which books, which ideas I liked more than the last.

Take history. But two short years ago I was beginning college. I loved the idea of history, that ability to raise one’s eyebrows and make a well-informed comment upon how this has all happened before. Just look back in that year, at that place, at that one moment which parallels this, and you’ll see, very clearly, how we’ve just repeated our mistakes–for better or for worse I’d leave to the audience, but it’s only one such possible encounter with a historian.

Of course, but two short years ago, I was also beginning my first course in history. And I can assure you all, there was no delight in the act for the delight that mirrored the concept. I was bored. I sought answers and insight that didn’t exist in the text, that didn’t exist in the mindset of history. Though I still love the idea of history, and being historically knowledgeable, the study itself remains elusive, a passion I cannot touch.

And as a mathematician, I’m also exceedingly fond of tangents.

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It’s Fractal Almost

Plinky says:

“Ten years from now, what do you hope your life will be like?”

I asked myself a similar question this last summer when I was Israel. We were in the Beit Knesset (that is to say, in the vulgar, the chapel) and I was looking up at the stained glass window, thinking of where life might take me.

It started with a seed–who I was and where I was.

Then it started to grow: A stem (where I’ve been) and branches (where I’d be going). As it grew onwards and upwards, the branches kept breaking and breaking apart more and more, each traveling about the same distance before it bifurcated itself into two more possible futures, almost as if the fractal tree that branches perpetually.

I still see that tree, but now it has many more branches.

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