Important, not just interesting

Been a long time.  How’s the family?  Work?  Good, good… now, about me.

I had a dump of a day on Monday.  I was all ginned up* to work on a(nother fucking) fellowship, but the application was immense and frankly scary.  They’re looking for about twenty pages of pretty specialized essays.  I don’t blame the funding agency; they’re making applicants truly prove that their projects actually fit the agency’s mission, and that’s fair.  And it’s not even the amount of work that threw me.  It was a pretty basic question: “Why is it important that this project be done?”  I couldn’t come up with a good answer, just some bullshit about the importance of learning from the past or whatever.  And I’m still wrestling with the question.  Actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a while: why am I doing this project?  There are very practical reasons: no one’s really done it before; it’s pretty sexy; it’ll help me get funding and a job.  But am I really convinced that it’s “important that this project be done”?  In an abstract sense, perhaps; I think I could make an argument that it’s objectively “important” for humanity that this project be done.  But I’m not sure that it’s important to me.  And that’s more than just a question of whether I’m interested in the project, which is the advice I’ve been given in the past: make sure to choose something you’re interested in.  Not good enough, my friends, not nearly good enough.  It’s got to be important to me.  I need to be able to connect to the project in some way–to find something in the project that, for lack of something less melodramatic, gives my life meaning.  And I suppose that’s the way I’m looking at this now: I need to find something in this project, not find another project.  Too late to change course now, and more importantly, I’d guess that everyone struggles with their projects in this way at some point.  So I’ll work on that today: identifying the thing in this project that connects to my life in some way.  It’s the least I could do, after all–I’m a privileged white kid who doesn’t have to work a proper job.  Few other people have this opportunity.

Another of my favorite phrases, because it means both “worked up” and “drinking gin.”  And I love gin.  Recommendations on your favorite are most welcome.