Today I had a serving of philosophy for breakfast. My almost 5 year-old was asking me if Luke in Star Wars Episode IV is the same person as Luke in Episode VI. He thinks they are different because he changed. I had to agree, as I do not think I am the same person I was years ago... and somehow I see less change in the mirror than when I look beyond it. If I try to pinpoint when or why it happened I draw a blank. As far as I can tell marriage didn't change me, neither did motherhood, but at some point last year I noticed I was thinking different thoughts.
I remember having a conversation with Dada about five years ago, while he was struggling with his tenure track position, where he was pointing out to me that he had enough other interests that if he did not make it in science he could do other things in life. I clearly remember thinking that for me it would be impossible to conceive a different route. I could not even envision the "not making it" part. When last year it hit me that I had left academia, without realizing it, I was struck for the first time with ideas of an alternate path. I also realized last year that I had interests outside of science, and my hobbies started shaping my thoughts to different ventures.
I would not go so far as to say I am disheartened with science and I am looking for a way out. I still love research and putting pieces together to solve scientific puzzles. I just do not want to do it all the time anymore. What I noticed is that there is more to me than just science. I am striving to seek balance in my life and incorporate all these newly discovered parts of me into a harmonious whole.
Dada seems to think that this is just a "35-year-old crisis" and everyone goes through it. Maybe it is... maybe it will pass. Or maybe it is one of those checkpoints in life where you are supposed to reassess your priorities and direction in order to move on to the next phase of your life. However, even if the outcome is constant and there is no change in direction, there are no guarantees that the subtle changes acquired during this period will not have marking effects later on. Only time will tell...