The best thing about graduate school was having time to read books in large libraries and spend long periods of time in quiet solitude thinking with a view towards writing these thoughts down, talking to peers, revising, and then having something I was more or less proud to have written. Graduate school was a wild luxury- one few are able to come by.
The best thing about family life is not having the time to read and write. In truth I am finding out that there are better things to do than read and write the way I used to. Don’t get me wrong- I still read but not as before, and I still sit down to write but I don’t seem to have that voice at the moment.
Much of this has to do with discipline and habits. I can be very undisciplined person. As a young man, I got by on my parents’ brains and my own cleverness. This coupled with the right professors in college was enough for a 3.3 GPA and a nice recommendation to teach. After seven years, I found the right woman to help take me back to school- a second bite of the cherry. Sometimes I pushed myself but often I surrounded myself with the right people and the best people to make up the difference. Early on and again in the end, I realized that I was not clever anymore or that I was surrounded by clever but also harder workers with greater, more focused ambitions that I had.
And this is fine. I would like to write more, I’m just not sure what needs to be said by me. Lots of others are doing a good job writing about the current state of affairs, be it the Church, our nation’s politics, food and craft, leisure and sports, and everything in between. I’m pretty content with reading The New York Times or First Things columnists, listening to podcasts about theology, philosophy, history, art, and football, but mainly spending time with my wife, my daughters, my friends, and my colleagues, while trying to be a serious and faithful Catholic layman who hears Mass regularly, prays and fasts, and then tries to model to my family and students the good bits I have learned in my years of education and suffering.
I know there is virtue in hard work, whether it’s farm work, woodworking, house work, &c., &c., as well as writing. I just think writing right now is a distant fifth or sixth from what I am able to do with my time and what I have to offer.
That said, I am well aware of the master’s admonition to the “wicked and slothful servant” (KJV/DRA) in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and the “exterior darkness” do frighten me.