I’ve been called a lot of things over the years, but “go-getter” isn’t among them. I never had the ambition to become a titan of industry or finance, and while when I was a kid I thought it might be cool to be President, I wised up pretty quickly and had decided on writing and academia by the time I was in high school. As it happened, whatever talents I have worked well in that direction, and I’d like to think that the things I do, I do fairly well.
Still, there were risks involved, and I wasn’t the only one to assume them. Most notably, I walked away from a career in the magazine business after six years so that I could go back to school and get my Ph.D. I took an 80% pay cut, moved Mrs. M and the Spawn (then a toddler) to a cinder-block apartment in an unfamiliar city, and spent a few years getting a union card for a professorial job that statistics indicated probably didn’t exist. As part of that, I mortgaged a piece of our future with the student loans I had never taken before.
Having done that, we got jobs in Mondoville — that being the only place that had jobs for both Mrs. M and me — despite the fact that it was hundreds of miles away from our families, friends, churches, and the lives we had grown. (Weirdly, it was only about 35 miles from the small town where my dad was born, but I’ve had no living relatives here for decades.)
It was worth it. I’ve got a job I love that allows me time to do the other things I love, and that helps me provide for my family (while also providing a low-cost education for the Spawn). But it did involve some sacrifices (I’m still paying those loans), and it did involve risk. I’ve mentioned before that my dad told me when we moved to Muncie, that it was a pretty gutsy thing we had done. That pleased him, and I’m proud of that.
I know I’ve talked about some of this before — although it has been a while, and newer readers might not have read those posts. But I was reminded of it by an article by Ian Tuttle at NRO this morning. He talks about the pioneer spirit, the willingness to take risk, and what may have become of those attitudes in the world of cradle-to-grave State:
After all, there are no born pioneers, settlers, or immigrants. There are only people who decide that nothing is foreordained, that success — that bitch-goddess — resides, if anywhere, only at the far end of many hard choices, and that chasing that possibility is preferable to standing around in misery or penury.
Now, Clan Mondo didn’t cross the plains in a Conestoga wagon, and in fact we moved East, rather than West. Still, I’d like to think there’s a little bit of the pioneer story in my story as well, and I hope it serves as an example to the Spawn.
(Oh, and for the title of this post, here’s an 11-year-old Keith Green)