[the palaverist]

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Sunset over Pushkar, India.

I am at an ending, and also a beginning.

On Saturday, I will move out of the apartment I have shared with my wife, Jenny, for the last two years, and move into a new apartment on my own. There are all kinds of reasons to feel sad about this transition, and I do, but for the moment I don't need to rehearse those reasons one more time.

On Monday night, feeling overwhelmed by all that lay ahead of me, I had a flash of insight. I was feeling grim about yet another company that decided, after several interviews, to turn me down for a job, and I was contemplating what, in an ideal world, I would do for a living. What I came up with was no surprise to me, and it's probably no surprise to you: my ideal job would be quite similar to the one I have now, providing me the opportunity to hang around with diplomats and contemplate international affairs and foreign cultures on a leisurely schedule, but it would also put me in exotic locales and give me excuses to get involved with the local people so that I could write about the whole thing, much as I did in Korea. That job, as I have known for quite some time, is Foreign Service Officer.

Now, I'm not about to go running off to the Foreign Service just yet. "No big changes in the first year" is a recovery slogan, and outside of getting a divorce, a new apartment and a new job, I plan to stick to it. I need to piece my life back together before I go off to serve my country in uncomfortable and disorienting places.

But it helps to know that whatever is coming next, it's temporary. My thought at the moment — subject to radical revision, of course, particularly considering the circumstances under which I'm writing this — is that I will devote the next two years to recovery and personal growth and apply for the Foreign Service by my 35th birthday, two years from next Saturday. Between now and then, I will need to learn how to live alone, how to survive without relying on some other person to sustain me and give my life meaning. I will need to clear away the wreckage and stand confidently on my own two feet. And I can do those things: I have help and I have faith.

And now I have a goal towards which to work, a dream for my life that resonates. That's something to be grateful for.



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