I tend to be publicly modest about my work; this tends to be detrimental, as I my position is funded entirely by soft money and it would probably be helpful if I blew my own horn more often. I suppose I often have doubts about the worthiness of my work, in part due to the sometimes lukewarm and anemic institutional acknowledgement I receive (or don’t). So I feel a little weird about posting the following e-mail I received recently, from a person I’ve never met who reads my regular updates to a local birding listserv. This is something I would print out and keep in a personal journal, and since personal journaling is one of the roles of this blog, I feel like it’s okay, so I’ll have it to refer to next time I lament the lack of nurturing and support for scientists.
I am in continued state of awe whenever I read your postings. Your skill, your knowledge, your willingnessto share, and above all your passion that has driven you to all of this over many, many years is so very much appreciated by someone who wishes I had taken a road more similar to yours. Please know this – that you guide even those who are not with you on the path. You shine a light that I am able to, at least, carry within.
As often as my energy level and providence allow, I try to make my updates to the local lists more interesting and readable than laundry lists of newly arrived migrants and banding totals. I get nice, modest applause e-mails occasionally, which are greatly appreciated. This one is perhaps more effusive than the post that prompted it deserved, but knowing somebody is actually paying attention to what I write, and that I can bring some measure of inspiration to a stranger, well, it just feels great.
I thank you, blog reader, for tolerating this personal indulgence. Now back to regularly scheduled programming.