Semester-End Lessons


At the end of every semester, me and my friends always have lunch together and talk about what we learned that went beyond what our classes taught us. The overarching lessons that each semester brings.

Since the semester is almost over, I’m gathering my thoughts. Here’s what this semester seems to have brought.

(In college, I’ve discovered that you can tell you are approaching a solution when things seem to suddenly branch out into an overwhelming complexity. And I think that’s where my life is now. I’ve solved so many small problems that all that’s left are the big ones with no easy answers.)


I am nearly 39 years old, and my list of things I’d like to have done in life is not even clear, much less partially worked through. I’ve had a lot of setbacks in life, and the time to get uncomfortable and actually start doing dreams rather than dreaming them seems to be (un)fortunately, NOW.

Time has a stop. Things can wait, but not forever. Time is running out.


I’m a slow worker, a crafter. I’ll never be happy in a job that lets me turn out good work without giving me the time to make great work, or at least work that I have polished to a sheen that satisfies my eye.

I don’t make birdhouses. I made dorodango.

This is not a statement of snobbery in which I am implying the superiority of the dorodango over the birdhouse. Depends on what you want, and what you want to make.


If I was told I’d wake up in my dream life tomorrow, I have no idea where that would be. And the only way to find out is to start trying things that are new, hard and strange.

Nothing is left but what’s uncomfortable.


People have a work identity. And an ethnic and cultural identity, and maybe, sometimes, a spiritual identity. But do you have a political identity? A philosophical identity? Can your cultural identity integrate itself into a global cultural framework (so you’re an Irishwoman, but what does that mean when you explain yourself to someone from Qatar?) Are these legitimate examinations of personal identity? If they are, what’s the plan?

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