According to my recollection of Straczynski’s commentary around Babylon 5 or at least as much as I heard before muting it because he started dishing out spoilers, those were the two main questions of Bab5: Who are you? and What do you want?
Personally, I don’t think “Who are you?” is a very interesting question, because I think the answer is too complex to be interesting or useful. I don’t think we (or at least I) have a good map for that territory.
What do you want?, on the other hand, is something I struggle with almost continuously. As Carolyn and I have done a little house hunting here in Altoona, nothing has yet jumped out at us. This does not surprise me. It took me quite some time to find my home in Charlottesville, as well. One of the houses we looked at was new construction. It was moderately interesting, and had pretty usable space inside, but had some major flaws (IMHO) — specifically, it was in a little mini-development; the “walk-in” closet could be walked in now, but it looked like as soon as clothes were hung there, forget it; it seemed a bit expensive for the specific value propisition it offered; and the stairs were too steep. I guess, really, the stairs were too shallow. Each step couldn’t have been more than 9″ deep. It was a little awkward ascending. It was simply scary descending. It would have driven me crazy. Oh, and what was up with the dead flies? There must have been 200 of them in the house! (OK, forgive a little hyperbole, but really, it would surprise me if there were fewer than 80.)
Anyway, that was far too long a tangent. But that house got me thinking. Maybe we could build in Altoona. Then, we could get exactly the features we want in a house. Plus, if we built something with an in-law suite, there’s a good chance we could get some parental financial assistance as my mom (or Carolyn’s folks, or maybe both) might see it as a way to be sure that they have a place to stay when they come visit us. Or a home base as she travels the world (or at least the US eastern seaboard) in her RV. I started searching for home plans online. I found a neat one that was far too extravagant, but I still wanted to point it out to Carolyn. She said, “but if we were going to build, didn’t we want to do green building? Could we do that with a conventional builder here?”
Oh. Yeah. That side of what I want. I had a vision. A passion. For this idea that we’ve called “the compound.” I won’t go into all the details. Suffice it to say, lots of land, friends and family around. Small, but comfortable living quarters, and shared resources like library (books, music, movies [and, yes, comics CJ]), home gym, etc. All built with sustainable development permiating design, development and the very process of living there. Grander versions of this idea include cabins for visiting artists and scholars willing to share their passions and projects in exchange for housing and willing, if inexperience, assistance.
Yeah, I want that too.
On the same scale, and also today, I got notice of a Java programming position opening in Tipton — an even smaller town than Altoona 15-20 minutes north of here. Almost an Altoona suburb if a rural place can be said to have suburbs. It sounds like a fairly neat job, and the salary range is amost enough to make it interesting. I still hold out some hope for employment at PSU — I think they need someone with a skillset remarkably like mine to pull together their disparate (and apparently somewhat floundering) IT efforts. I have enjoyed working hard at something I love and being well rewarded for it.
But, at the same time, I’ve been relishing the freedom and flexibility of my current situation. I have some days of client- (or self-) induced panic if something’s not going right, but for the most part, it’s a sweet gig, this house-husband, small-time entrepreneur thing. And I look forward (mostly) to the potential “stay at home dad” thing too.
I have no doubt I can acheive what I want. If only I knew what it was. I have tricks and techniques, both garnered and internally generated, for decisions like “Do I want Italian or Mexican for dinner tonight?” But for life’s bigger choices, I feel like my only strategy is “to be” and to do the best I can in the moment. That’s good, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like I want to try to guide more; to exert my will more. Or, as my therapist put it, “Ask the universe for what you want.”
I feel a little like Ned Flanders when he complains to God…”I did everything the bible told me to do, even the stuff that contridicts the other stuff!” Only I haven’t even done it yet. I’m on the other side, trying to figure out how to do it all. Or what’s really important. Or, simply put. What do I want?