In the press of raising small children, getting tenured and promoted, and taking on various leadership positions in scholarly organizations, I let a lot of things slide. Last year I resolved to change my ways on some of those things. I scheduled long-neglected checkups, updated our insurance coverage, and arranged for some badly-needed home improvements.
Much still remains to be done. And my "be a better person" campaign (as I thought of it) would be pretty depressing if I focused on all the neglected things I failed to pick back up last year. I'm the kind of person that can let the mountain of needs keep me from accomplishing anything at all. I get overwhelmed and discouraged by the length of the to-do list, and it paralyzes me.
But it feels good to have a few of those items under my belt, especially the ones I felt guiltiest about. I think, however, that it's important not just to try to get back to even (and I'm a long way from it), but also to start new endeavors. Otherwise, the endless process of clawing towards basic respectability and responsibility would be too dispiriting. So I enjoy the feeling of moving forward, learning something new, advancing in areas I've identified as personally fulfilling.
For some people, being an adult means keeping the bills paid and the taxman away from the door. That's certainly part of it, but if it were all about plugging holes in the dike and shoveling back the encroaching sea, there'd be little to look forward to. I couldn't be happier that at the same time I'm trying to keep up with the treadmill, I'm also actually trying to get better -- not just from the low standard I've set with my failures, but from the level of skill and accomplishment I've reach to this point.