Why I Dislike the "Library 2.0" Tag
Friedman's Flat World

Time Wrestling

I was surprised that I did almost no blogging during my Christmas break.  It was one of the many things that I fantasized I would have time for -- among the many other things that I never got to.  That's typical for me, I'm afraid.

When I was twenty, I abandoned the notion of a classical music career because I came to realize that in order to do that well, you had to be single-minded.  I was interested in too many other things besides music and wasn't willing to give them all up for the dedication that a life in music would require.

It was that same sense of myself as a generalist, rather than a specialist, that led me several years later to go to library school.   It seemed to me that this was one profession in which being a generalist -- someone interested in everything, someone able to make connections between seemingly disparate areas of knowledge and imagination -- would be an asset, rather than a distraction.   I remember that first Sunday afternoon when, as a graduate assistant, I took my first turn at the reference desk.  I was anxious about it.  I manage my shyness pretty well now, but in those days it was nearly debilitating, and the thought of putting myself in a position where I was encouraging strangers to talk to me was completely terrifying.  But from the first question, I loved it.  I was amazed at what fun it was to try to figure out how to make those connections between what somebody was looking for and what I was aware we could make available.   My highest aspiration was that I might be able to do that kind of work forever.

The irony, of course, is that aside from my work as a grad assistant, and those Monday evenings in the reading room at the National Library of Medicine, I never did get to work as a reference librarian.  Part of being interested in everything is that I've never had a game plan for my life -- I've never had any idea where I was "going to be in five years."  I've just tried to stay out of my own way and remain intellectually and emotionally honest.  And my path has led me here.

The downside of this peculiar personality of mine is that there is never enough time to fit in everything that I want to do.  As the years go by, I get better at managing my time -- I don't get much better at managing my anticipations.  I still think that I ought to have time, over the course of a few days of vacation, to read half a dozen books, write several brilliant essays, take some long walks around the lake, spend a few hours playing guitar (while learning some new songs and maybe writing one or two), cook a couple of gourmet meals and have unlimited time to play with Josie.  And then, in the evenings after dinner, watch a few movies.  I'm sure I've left several things out.

For the past several months I've been looking forward to the time when I was no longer the editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association.   For six years, it has been a major focus that occupies a dozen or so hours a week, on average.  At the MLA annual meeting in San Antonio last May, several people asked me what I was going to do with that free time now.   The first time the question was asked, I gave a long meandering answer listing many of the sorts of things I'd like to try to shoehorn into those hours.  By the end of the meeting I'd boiled it all down to three words:  "Play more guitar."  But in fact, I know that those free hours will get swallowed up pretty quickly, absorbed into the rest of all of the things that I'm trying to find time for.

I still have a few things to finish up for the April supplement, so I'm not quite done with the editing yet.  I'm curious to see how it will affect the rhythm of my days (and particularly of my weekends).  I'm definitely not worried about getting bored.


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