Euan quotes Steve Jobs about excellence, and (quite apart from quibbles over the quality of rival product lines) Steve gets at the heart of my frustration and impatience and ardor for teaching:
We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? So this is what we’ve chosen to do with our life. . . And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.
I’ve said something along these lines numerous times, but as often as not my interlocutor looked at me as though I were from outer space, or a drama queen, or just foolishly anxious. I admit to a degree of anxiety, especially now, but more to the point, I want the few years that I’m afforded to be worth it, for me and for my family and for my students and for whatever small effect I make during these dwindling days. I’m not a genius, who can make a lightning-like contribution in a moment and coast the rest of their life; I’m a workman who knows there are homes and hospitals and libraries and sanctuaries to be built, and I can’t do it on my own, and I can’t bear to see it done shoddily, discrediting everyone involved.
(Seth Godin strikes a related note.)