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A Metaphor of Three Boxes

Imagine that when we came to Glasgow in 1988, I was the perfect size and shape for the box that represented the post I had applied for.  (Well, I got the job, so that seems reasonable to assume!)

Since then I’ve accumulated loads of experience, and a couple more qualifications – a Musicology PhD and a PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education.  And a couple of fellowships into the bargain.  I’ve been research assistant on an AHRC-funded project, and PI (principal investigator) on an AHRC networking grant.  I’ve published articles and a book, and given a lot of papers.  So … it would be equally reasonable to assume that I’ve slightly outgrown my box!

cardboard boxesUnfortunately, it feels as though, at the same time as I’ve been outgrowing the box, the box itself seems to be shrinking.  Shades of Alice in Wonderland?  Don’t be silly, that’s just a children’s story!  No, it’s more a kind of Pilgrim’s Progress, as I look this way and that in my efforts to find a bigger box (fresh challenges) without having to relocate.  That’s not even a remote possibility, for personal reasons.

Indeed, you could say we’re looking at four boxes, not three.  The one I started in, the bigger one I ought to be in, the little one I AM in, and a bigger box still for my future aspirations.

boxesI love my research, and I love working with students.  I can’t honestly say I love cataloguing with the same passion.  Squeezed into my present little box, I’m like Schrodinger’s cat: at once alive, and moribund!

Never let it be said that people over sixty suddenly lose their ambitions. If anything, it makes it feel more urgent that I fulfil my potential before I reach pensionable age!  I jokingly call myself an underachieving high-achiever, but it’s not entirely a joke.  If I met St Peter at the pearly gates tomorrow, I’d be apologising that I hadn’t managed to climb higher up the career ladder!





I’m feeling guilty.  I fully meant to do more reading before now. However, I’ve had five migraines in nine days.  I never let them stop me doing a day’s work, but sometimes I’m forced to stop reading or sitting in front of a screen too long at night!  Maybe tomorrow I’ll get back to reading…