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Dr John Hawkins

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The Longest Day

Posted on 2007/06/21 23:01:47 (June 2007).

[Thursday 21st June]
Didn't do anything special to mark the summer equinox today, just the usual long day at work (almost a pun there).

I was also feeling a bit philosophical this evening. I got emails from two of my friends from Japan, and was reminded of this day about 8 months ago, when I went to see Shig's prospective house in Chofu, the suburb of Tokyo where I used to work. At that time the "house" was just a field - but I learned today the building work was all finished and he'd be moving in next week. It is strange, it equally seems like only a couple of weeks ago when we were standing in that field, and also another lifetime. I still can't put my finger on what it was about that strangely calm and still afternoon, looking out over the Tamagawa river, but it had an oddly spiritual sort of feel to it.

I'm sure I've rattled on about this before, but I think right now I have this strange feeling of "er, well, what's next then?". Up until now there's always been some sort of a goal to work towards, something on the horizon. Finishing my degree, then getting a job, then finishing my PhD, then going to Japan, trying to find a good job there... and then when I decided that situation wasn't quite right for me, finding a good job here and moving back again.

It takes a while for the dust to settle after all the flux of changing jobs, homes, countries and so on... but it has been a few months since I've come back now. I eventually got over my initial feeling of displacement (or whatever it was) with the new job, and I can genuinely say I like it now - I can't think of any better company to be working for.

...but now I just sort of think to myself, "what is left to achieve?". That's not to say I don't think I'll have any opportunity to do exciting and groundbreaking stuff at work - there are plenty of really interesting challenges in my current project, and they seem to be pretty flexible about letting people switch projects if they really want to. It's more that I feel I've been mentally conditioned over the last decade or so to be constantly working towards a specific goal. Passing a test, getting a qualification, getting a particular job. There's always been a very well defined carrot dangled in front of me. Until now.

So I think that is the significance of the that afternoon by the Tamagawa river - I'm not really sure where I am, and I'm looking out over a horizon which is wide but unclear.

Well, apologies for turning this into another self indulgent, waffling diatribe. I shall attempt to limit these to about once every 8 months. :)

Comment 1


Posted by Mum at 2007/06/21 23:12:55.

Comment 2

Perhaps the time has come to build on what you have achieved, rather than actually achieving something extra - if that makes any sense. You could have children; you could buy a house; you could form a jazz ensemble. These are a selection of things we working-bods do once the foundations have been laid. It's difficult to "push an envelope" every day unless you set up a business... However if the urge to achieve is over-riding then how about a shift within Google?

(Oh and by the way, may I be so bold as to correct you, John? It's not an "equinox" actually. The day is way longer than the night. Two equinoxes exist - Vernal and Autumnal etc. Sorry. Had to be a pedant! :))

Posted by Nigel at 2007/06/21 23:16:51.

Comment 3

Mum - are you basically saying this is a fundamental part of the human condition, to continually wonder what the point of it all is?

I don't mean that to sound bleak or anything. Pointless doesn't necessarily have to be a bad word. Cakes are essentially pointless. They're still nice though.

Posted by John at 2007/06/21 23:23:25.

Comment 4

Nigel: how annoying - somebody at work today referred to it as the equinox, and I corrected them, saying it was in fact the solstice. Somehow that guy's mistake has infected my brain. Oh well, I blame it on the odd sense of cosmic flux which has come over me this evening!

Anyway, yes you're probably right - some of tosee previous goals have been more like complete changes (new country, new job, etc), but perhaps now I should be striving more for just incremental improvements.

Hmmm... when I read that back now it does sound pretty banal though.

Posted by John at 2007/06/21 23:28:24.

Comment 5

The bizarre made-up word "tosee" in that previous comment should really read "those".

Posted by John at 2007/06/21 23:29:17.

Comment 6

No, I meant that you take after me with mood swings and always wanting to be doing something!

Posted by Mum at 2007/06/22 11:20:26.

Comment 7

John, how about starting a family. I hear that can be quite challenging ?

Posted by Kev at 2007/06/22 22:21:24.

Comment 8

Hi John (and Lorenzo, good to hear from you). Well, as they say here in Mexico "es la vida" (that's life"), just go with the flow for now and you'll know when it's time to change course. I had a look at an old diary from last year and I would never have predicted I would be in Mexico now... Yes, the Mexican food is a bit limited (far too much meat) and you get tired of the same old stuff (I'd take Japanese any day of the week...) but there's a deli down the road that does a wicked cheese sarnie with jalapeno peppers. Also, they have an excellent range of beers -- I think that many Germans settled here in the 19th century. Anyway, try to forget about the carrot for now -- and waffle away as much as you like. We're all contemplating the same river! Saludos, Ben

Posted by Ben at 2007/06/25 08:56:32.

Comment 9

PS You lived in Belsize Park? Do you know The Belsize Tavern (I lived about 2 minutes stumble from there, now a gastropub I think), The Washington (on England's Lane), The Richard Steele's, The Load of Hay, and Hampstead pubs such as The Holly Bush and The Spaniards... also there was a decent tapas bar opposite the tube station. Guess I'm feeeling a bit homesick tho' I hear the weather is fit for ducks over there! Cheers, Ben

Posted by Ben at 2007/06/25 09:17:06.

Comment 10

"what is left to achieve?"

Little Hawkins's that's what!!

Posted by tom at 2007/06/28 14:06:34.

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