Last month, I was invited to give a Tuesday Talk here at Hendrix, a series of talks about vocation and calling, going on now for about a decade. Each invitee is asked to speak on the simple question “What is my calling/vocation and how do I know?" and is free to interpret this question however they like.
Here are links to the audio and text of my talk. I was thankful to be invited, I found it a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what led me here, although I was struck by the process of creating the narrative for my life. My talk is really only based on a true story. Each decision, turning point, or motivation I mention (for instance, my decision to take a job in San Antonio and subsequently leave that job after 5 months) was much more complicated than I related, and I needed to simplify many parts to get to something with a beginning, middle and end.
Also, besides Chaos and Turtles, Termites and Traffic Jams, there were more influential books along my path here that I left out for the sake of brevity, including Gödel Escher Bach, How to Solve It: Modern Heuristics, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and the previously mentioned Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Perhaps I will dive into their influence in a later post.
Of course, I do abstraction all the time as an educator. I usually work through a messy, complicated topic in computer science, looking for a good way to structure a lesson or lab, and inevitably details are left out and modified to fit some overarching tale. But I had not critically abstracted on my own life story in quite some time, and it highlighted for me just how messy and complicated everyone’s life story must be.