So I will start my new job on the 21 after all. I don't know yet how it is going to turn out, suffice to say that it is far from the teaching world I have been used for the last year or so. It made me think of all the jobs I had, all the things I studied, the choices I made, the ones I refused to make and the paths I did not take.
There is a popular saying, taken from the Bible, that says that a man has to walk a "straight and narrow path" (the correct quote here). It makes for great songs, but it is inaccurate and naïve, at best. Paths in life are often narrow, but they are rarely straight. They are tortuous and filled with uncertainty. I could have been a lot of things at some point, yet I took educational and career paths that led me somewhere else and I was never sure of the arrival or the journey. I studied acting and opera, at some point I seriously considered becoming either an actor or an opera singer, but those careers are more uncertain than the life of an academic.
Even studying literature, a number of possibilities came to me. I decided to do medieval literature partially because it was one of the first period of literature I discovered I was naturally good at. But I found out later on that I could easily make intelligent and compelling analysis of contemporary plays (like say this one), Contemporary plays were never particularly attractive to me, but I had an almost unwilling fascination for them, enough to be good at "getting" them. I am still very proud of a paper I wrote on Krapp's Past Tape of Beckett, maybe my best essay as an undergrad. I could have become one of those many XXth century specialists, with a vast amount of plays to work on, including the ones of the all new XXIth century. I didn't follow that path, maybe because I was so unfamiliar with the field of studies that I thought I might not be original enough to sustain years of research in this field.
And there are of course other paths I might take, or not, and if I do I have no idea where they will lead. The teaching world has generally been good to me, except in recent years, where I had mixed results. It will be good to be away from it for a little while. But where will I be in a few months, I have no idea.