mardi 29 mai 2012

Why do we do what we do

Some of my choices have been hard to justify lately, since I'm going from a stable situation to a less stable one - from well employed to kind-of, maybe employed. But when I search the core of my choice, I'm okay with it. However,  I'm also in denial. I'm not realizing that I'll be leaving Bethlehem in 4 days, that all my belongings will be packed and ready to go. I need to start realizing, because I do have some packing left to do.

translated graph
I've also been working on a translation this past week. A physics research paper, which is not my forte, but which I am actually, oddly, able to translate thanks to a combination of my own brain and the internet's great language/translation applications. And this job, translating a physics research paper (more specifically, "the acoustics of string instruments"), led me to wonder: why do I like this so much? Translating? And teaching? And theater? And writing? Or, why do I have so many interests and what is it that drives me to work?
I came up with an answer - kind of. I need to digress, for a moment. You know the anecdote where a girl says that she wants to be a singer, yet all she ever talks about is how she envisions her huge house, her pool, her future designer clothes and trophy husband? Well, of course, the moral of the story is that the girl really doesn't want to be a singer, she just wants to be rich. And, in order to be rich, she doesn't necessarily has to be a singer (actually, probably not a good idea at all).

In my case - scoop ahead -  I don't want to be rich. But there is something that drives me, and I'm not sure that what I really want is what I claim to want. When I look at all the things that I enjoy doing in the professional realm, they all involve creating or transforming: I like to make things that previously didn't exist. That's what motivates me. I like to start with a very loose idea and end up with a blog post. I like to see a document in French and end up with a document in English. I like to gather people in a room and create a piece of theater to be performed for others. I like to start with a teaching concept and end up with a lesson plan. I've heard that theater was all about problem-solving, and I agree. But it never occurred to me that theater had problem-solving at its core because the performance itself was the solution. Sometimes, in the midst of it all, we forget.

The Matter of Moments, Feb. 2011, Touchstone Theatre.
Although we are all constantly evolving, changing, contradicting ourselves, I like to come up with finished products that act as little answers. My favorite solutions are artistic, but I like other ones too -  as long as they attempt to answer the key questions that were asked in the first place, and as long as they can morph into new questions that, in turn, need to be addressed.
That sounds a lot like what motivates researchers, doesn't it? Or artists. Yes, artists also seek answers and their creations act as temporary proofs. Research and art - they're not that far apart.
In this century, for some reason, we're asked to choose: one way to explain the world over another. And that's fine - sometimes it's important to make a choice. But I need to remember what motivates me at the very elemental level - why I do what I do, and how can I do more of what I really, really love?
I'll be answering that question for a while.

3 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Very insightful, indeed.

Anonyme a dit…

Yes to all of this. My favorite college professor asked us "Why do you do what you do?" and then "What is it that you do?" I love asking myself these questions to see how the answers change.

Also: If you ever need any help, David may be able to help you with French/ physics translating. He studied Astronomy outside of Paris. :)

Anne Losq a dit…

Vicki - thanks for volunteering David's help - I might take you and him up on that! I had one big problem sentence for this translation that a friend was able to help me with when I posted it on facebook. I must say that technology is pretty great for cases like this!
Thanks for posting :)