Saturday, June 05, 2004

the possibly-bad news from Ehwa

From the woman who interviewed me, the following brief email, in response to an email I'd recently sent her office:


I am sorry I didn't get back to you.
We have decided not to defer the decision as there are too many uncertainties right now.
However, we will definitely keep you in mind, whether it is for a part-time or full time position.

Thank you once again, and let me say it was a pleasure meeting with you.



I think she meant "we have decided to defer," not "we have decided not to defer," but who knows.


Then again-- just a second ago, I got a call from ULS saying they have a two-month gig for me at Seoul National University. I said I'd give them a definite answer on Wednesday; in truth, I'm looking for more than a string of two-month gigs. It's a vicious cycle to get into: it's pragmatic to say yes to whatever gig comes along, but this is ultimately self-defeating if your goal is to get long-term work: Murphy's Law says a position will open up only if you're in mid-gig. At the same time, it's self-defeating to reject gig after gig, because then you end up with nothing, like the story of the dude who starved to death trying to decide between two meal options.

There's a story (found in the Chuang-tzu??? I've looked for it but never found it) about the farmer whose good and bad fortune merely produce shrugs. The farmer loses a prize horse; his neighbors say, "Oh, how terrible!", but the farmer merely shrugs. The horse ends up returning-- bringing along with it a whole slew of wild horses. The neighbors cheer, "Oh, how wonderful!" The farmer merely shrugs. The farmer's son severely breaks his ankle while trying to train the wild horses; the neighbors moan, "Oh, how terrible!", but the farmer merely shrugs. The army comes looking to draft people for the latest war with the kingdom next door; they pass over the son, who's effectively lame. "Oh, how wonderful!" the neighbors say. The farmer shrugs. And on the story goes.

Something like that equanimity is important if you're planning to live in Korea long-term. I tend to think it's also important everywhere else: you never know what fortune will deal you next. Save yourself the unnecessary stress. "Find balance," as Mr. Miyagi said.


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