I will not be going back to school this fall.
This is not a startling statement, or even an interesting one, out of context. In context: Ever since I started kindergarten, I have gone back to school in the fall. Oh, sure, there was the hiatus between law school and the PhD program, but I was teaching at the law school then, so I went back to school in the fall. I'm so used to school in the fall that for me the new year actually begins in September.
But yesterday, I formatted my dissertation according to the strange and arcane conventions of my university and, as I told my committee, this only required cursing in three non-English languages (the particularly foul Latin happened later.) So it is officially complete, and being reviewed. And today, I filed the paperwork for my graduation. Assuming the defense goes as planned, and I don't need to make any significant post-defense revisions to the dissertation, I will have a doctorate at the end of this month. (Feel free to address me as The Doctor at any point after that.)
And then, something that is already beginning: the rest of my life. At least right now, that's not in academia. I'm writing, which is both amazingly exciting, and amazingly terrifying. There have been days that I haven't slept, for wondering if this is perhaps the worst idea I've ever had, and at least as many nights where I've gotten out of bed at some appalling hour to go to my office and write because I shouldn't be wasting my time with silly things like sleep. I worry that if I don't do well, for whatever value of "well" is particularly stringent, that I'll let down the people that believe in me, and worse, I'll disappoint myself. But I am doing this anyway, because I have a chance to try, and I will not live the life where I do not take those chances any more.
The title of this post is from Jason Webley's song "Icarus." It's a fabulous song, one of my favorites of his, and one of my favorite myths, as well. Maybe it's a misreading, but I would rather fall, than never fly.