Monday, October 02, 2006 

Salt the earth

This blog is dead.

Once I figure out how to back it up (i.e. have five minutes to look it up and however long it'll take to do it), I'm deleting it. I'll probably start a research blog (more along the lines of Warren Ellis' than of an online journal).

I've had a rough couple months. I've just figured out how to explain it a few days ago.

Anyone already familiar with the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment will have to bear with me as I briefly sum it up and then bastardize it as an analogy that is only metaphorically useful in describing my current state.

Imagine a cat in a box with an attached poison gas delivery mechanism that the cat can in no way mess with. The mechanism will be triggered if an atomic nucleus decays. The experiment is set up so that there's exactly a 50 per cent chance of this happening after an hour. An hour passes. Is the cat alive or dead?

It's got to be one or the other, right? Maybe not.

According to Schrodinger (and my memory... forgive me if I get it a little wrong), the cat is both alive and dead until someone opens up the box and looks in. Then the part of the 'wavefunction' that represents one of the states (live cat or dead cat) will collapse and the cat will either be dead or alive.

That's where I'm leaving Schrodinger's work behind. From here on out I'm just using the language metaphorically to get across an idea.

My identity is built up of three different wavefunctions. They've been a part of me since before University. They are what I refer to when I say 'me'.

The first is the one that represents what I'm trying (painstakingly slowly) to do as far as reporting on criminology as a science goes. At first it took the form of 'criminologist' and gradually morphed into 'journalist'. My current job is a stepping stone, selected primarily because of what I'll learn from it. I very carefully trained my production staff this spring (they're very talented to begin with, I just provided a bit of industry standards). We've been getting all kinds of positive feedback. Our ad manager told me just now that she's got messages today from seven new companies who want to advertise with us ("It's unprecedented," she said) and she thinks it's because of how great the paper looks. The 'journalist' wavefunction is off to a good start.

The second is 'fiction writer'. Short fiction primarily, but eventually novels.

The third is 'martial artist'.

I haven't written fiction on any kind of regular basis for years. I don't know if any talent remains, but there was at least a kernel of it to begin with. Every short story I wrote through high school received a perfect grade, or damn close. In second year I wrote a story that I entered in an online contest that 2,000 people around the world had entered and took first place. (The prize was $50 US, so I'm not making any claims about the quality of the competition.) I wrote a bunch of short fiction after that one over the next two years but never did anything with it. It's all still on a hard-drive at my parents' house. I started a novel the summer I graduated, but it died on the vine when I started at the Ontarion as a section editor that fall and stopped prioritizing it. That was the end.

I haven't been a martial artist since I graduated high school. The skills are still there. I've nurtured them back to fairly high levels a few times since high school. But it's not just about skill. It's about training with people. There are things - like timing - that you cannot develop fully without working on it with other people. So any time I worked on the rest of the skills, it always felt like I was pretending. The moral and philosophical elements are just as present as the skill, but without the complete package, it's not real. I could have started training with a new club, but everything else I was always doing (school, work, paying rent, etc.) was always a higher priority. This may seem like a piddly thing to anyone who has never been a student of the martial arts. The biggest thing to understand is that when you're doing it right it's not just something you do, it's something you are. I'm not anymore, and admitting that was agony.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to Schrodinger.

I graduated from Humber's journalism program this spring. I started as the Ontarion's editor in chief. A high school friend of Christa's died and I started examining my life. I started to open the box. I feel like two of the three wavefunctions of my identity have collapsed and that parts of me are dying.

I can either let them die or change my life.

The first thing that's going is this blog.