- Worked from 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.
- Op-ed by Bill Gates about the need to measure and improve teacher effectiveness in order to significantly increase the quality of grade-school education
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art's online collection database
- The Discovery Channel's dinosaur news page
In connection with my recent thoughts about the job I have and the job I hope to get, I've been thinking about what I'm really interested in, what I would devote my attention to if making money weren't an issue. I'm not merely dreaming (though I certainly do my share of that during a 14-hour workday); I want to plan how I spend my free time to a greater extent so I get more out of it, and I also expect to have much more free time in the not-too-distant future. I plan on working hard at a law firm for the next half dozen years or so in order to pay off my student debt and amass some savings, but I'm not committed to staying on this path for my entire career. If I don't find it sufficiently interesting, I may very well be willing to take a significant pay cut in return for other rewards; I'm no workaholic.
Accordingly, I would like to start delving into at least one of my areas of interest, as opposed to spending the vast majority of my free time, as I currently do, indulging in ephemeral pleasures such as playing games that I'm not meaningfully studying. My reasons are twofold: one, I would like to experience the pleasure of developing some degree of expertise in something interesting, and two, because I may eventually pursue a second career outside the law (but not against it), I would like to get a head start on mastering what may be the subject of that career.
In thinking about my interests, I've come to realize the extent to which they have been shaped by the interests of my friends. Of course, people become friends to begin with because they have something significant in common, but I think many of the shared interests of friends arise because friends acquire each other's interests. It's quite possible that I would never have been pushed in the direction of certain interests or even exposed to certain favorites if I had not happened to meet the people who are my friends. I don't want to overstate this phenomenon -- especially since the internet makes it pretty easy for people to find out what they're interested in regardless of who they meet in real life -- but I think there's a lot to it. After all, friends routinely recommend things to each other and find common interests to pursue when they're hanging out.
That said, friends don't have complete influence over each other, so unless they're extraordinarily compatible, hanging out involves compromises, such as which restaurant to go to or which movie to see. When it comes down to it, interests are highly personal, and I think it's worth pinning them down and pursuing them so they don't linger like itches unscratched.
So what do I think my true interests are? I'm not really sure, especially since I haven't even tried to pursue some of the possibilities, but here are my thoughts, some much more confident than others, in no particular order:
- analytic philosophy (as I previously posted, I share Bertrand Russell's opinion of its basic merits)
- dinosaurs (when I was a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist, and part of me still does, especially given how much we have been learning about dinosaurs recently)
- animals and nature (I love David Attenborough documentaries and sure wouldn't mind taking over his career!)
- music composition (I've been passionate about it since I was a kid, but unfortunately I don't think I have a tremendous amount of natural talent, and so far I haven't had the discipline to study it)
- playing a musical instrument (I used to play the piano, and then the oboe, but my commitment petered out both times due to the whole discipline thing; but I still dream of being in a band)
- ancient Roman history (something I know very little about but find fascinating, perhaps due to its remoteness [in more than one sense of the word])
- medieval history (ditto)
- poker (I've hardly played, but it seems like a really interesting game, and a large percentage of lawyers seem to be into it)
- homebrewing (I love beer, and I love concocting recipes)