Frank Grimes and Homer Simpson. ‘The Simpsons’

Set up

This episode ‘Homer’s Enemy’ has been on my mind lately.

In the episode, Homer is put up against Frank Grimes, a man ‘who’s done everything right’, taken all the right steps and moved up into a steady job at the nuclear power plant in Springfield. And Homer sort of lucked into being the safety inspector in sector 7G. If you watch the show, Homer has also had any number of crazy experiences in his life, including winning a grammy when his singing group, the B-sharps, hit it big.

Living in the moment

‘Grimey’ is a very straight arrow, stays on the pre-laid path. He does what’s ‘expected’ by society- education, get a decent job and just do that. Forever. There’s some comfort in that.

Homer is the opposite. Living in the moment, doing what feels good for him in the moment, pursuing what he wants, leaning into the uncertainties of life- in large part because he doesn’t know any better.

I am much more like Frank Grimes. Standard. Straight. Narrow. And decidedly not a risk taker. I wish I was a bit more like Homer- a more competent at his job, perhaps, but someone who lives more in the moment and enjoys his time more…spending more time blogging perhaps, doing more creative things with my time. Oh, and Homer, of course has a family….Frank Grimes doesn’t. It all suggests that leaping in with both feet, while no guarantee, means interesting things will happen to you if you take the plunge. I don’t plunge enough.

Nick Offerman, Ron Swanson himself was on The Nerdist this week and talked about what it is to be a man (really, just a decent human being). Hard work. Empathy. Being authentic. Be humble. Be a lifelong student. And apologizing when you’re wrong. Being comfortable with yourself. Feeling like your work is a privilege. Owning your story. Something I’ve talked about a lot before.

Plunge in

I am trying to plunge in more in my life and enjoy the adventure, rather than hiding myself away. I don’t fully know what that means. But it at least means forcing myself to do the things that I am uncomfortable with. In the lab, in teaching, in life. Which is a lot. Venturing out when I’ve kept myself closed off for so long. It’s hard making it out of the dark forest. I have taken some steps in the right direction I think, though they seem so small and insignificant that I am still feeling like a failure at life. I know I’m still relatively young, but there’s a point where I have to say ‘I’m not where I want’…I just don’t know what or who to ask to change it all. But I’m asking my bumbling, stupid and slow questions, challenging myself in stupid ways and writing…which I’m told is a great way to learn what you think and find solutions to problems.



Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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