Monday, July 11, 2016

Santa Fe Surprise

A few months ago I got an email from the Rocky Mountain Division of the American Society for Aesthetics asking if I would give a keynote address at their summer conference in Santa Fe.

Well, I love giving talks, and I love Santa Fe. There was only one problem: I don't really know anything about aesthetics, or the philosophy of art. My area of specialization is ethics. I assumed that they had invited me by mistake, confusing me with some other better-qualified philosopher, and I wrote back to tell them so. They replied that they had indeed intended to invite me, hoping I could give them a "creative artist" talk on philosophy and children's literature. And I said, why, yes, that is exactly the kind of thing I could do!

The conference was this past weekend. Santa Fe is only a 6 1/2 hour drive from Boulder, so I invited my husband to come with me, and he accepted that invitation as well. But then I became consumed with doubt and guilt about how I would manage all my competing obligations: 1) give a good talk at the conference; 2) attend other sessions of the conference; 3) see an old friend friend from graduate school, a photographer/blacksmith/art historian who lives near Taos; 4) develop a new friendship with the wonderful, kindred-spirit philosopher who had invited me; and 5) make this a little holiday for me and my husband as well.

I really think I ended up doing all of those things. My talk was well received. I heard ten other talks and came away fired up to do more reading and maybe some writing as well on topics presented at the conference. I stole time for a leisurely lunch with the artist friend and had late night one-on-one heart-to-heart conversations with two other friends. I had dinner with my husband every night, and we also had a lovely drive up to Los Alamos to ponder the fascinating, tragic chapter of our national history that was the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II; he and I also savored the gorgeous scenery through the most gorgeous stretches of scenery in Colorado and New Mexico.

Sometimes it's a mistake to try to cram too much into too few days. Sometimes it's a mistake in life to try too hard to have it all. But this past weekend, I loved being able to combine work and play, professional development with deep, meaningful connections with friends old and new, plus family fun, too. I did have twinges of guilt for missing some conference sessions, but everybody misses a few. I did have a few pangs for abandoning my husband during most of each day, but we had more quality time together on the trip than we would have had at home. Best of all, I had long, quiet walks early each morning, all alone, past the art galleries on Canyon Road, time just for me. I had time, that is to say, for everything.

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