I'm back from Germany after ten days there. I enjoyed a family Christmas right in the middle of this decimal week and a few days of peace and quiet at either end. A friend from high school who I hadn't seen in about three years and who lives in Los Angeles at the moment, tried to get a hold of me. In the end we managed to meet, minutes before I left the country, at the airport for a coffee and a chat that was not nearly long enough. He is in a similar position professionally as I am, and I should have been eager to see him from day one. That I wasn't shows what kind of mood I was in.
Whoever asked, the high-school friend included, got to hear that I had retired into a Christmassy silence. In this silence I brooded, contemplating my life, reviewing first the present year and then the four years since my Ph.D. (Believe me I was shocked to realize it's been four years, but that will be the subject of another post – once I've driven my deliberations to some sort of conclusion.) The process was fruitful. I realized some things that weren't clear to me before, and I'm in a better position to make New Year's resolutions than I would have otherwise been.
It must be evident from the previous paragraphs that I was in no position to contribute to the jolliness and merriment that characterizes Christmas. Walks and drives would often take place in silence. As all my family are a bit on the introverted side, this behavior didn't strike anyone as particularly odd.
However, I frequently found myself withdrawing into thoughts in the middle of a board game. When the game was not to my taste, all hope would be lost at this point. I would continue playing, but the game would fizzle out pretty soon. Unless everyone wants to win at least a little bit, games are no fun. And since board games are what we enjoy most together as a family, something needed to be done. Luckily, there was one game my mom had got from the library that was so exciting that it kept my thoughts at bay and availed us of hours of fun.
My thoughts didn't stop, though. The hamsters kept running in their wheel, as a friend of mine was fond of saying. At night, I would sit down on the sofa, turn on the little Eee, and massage its tiny keyboard, putting words to the screen as they streamed from my brain.
A few days have passed. I'm back in the city I call home for now. My immediate perspective has changed, and the philosophical silence around me has been crowded out by urban noise. Looking at the files I created over Christmas, I find incoherent ramblings for the most part. But no matter how disorganized and chaotic they are, I have the feeling that they hide something important, something that didn't have any other way of getting out. I'll spend the next days sorting them out. There should be material for a few nice posts, and maybe I even learn something about myself.