A good question, and I hope to hear more stories from others.
Hamartia is about viewing your life as an Aristotelean tragedy. So,
Scratch me just a little bit, and I will lament the defining woe of my life, that I did not become a professional linguist: Nick Nicholas’ answer to What is your personal experience with obtaining a linguistics degree?
And the fatal flaw of the hero in Ancient Greek tragedy is more often than not hubris, arrogance.
Well, here’s the arrogance part:
- Where did you hope the degree will take you? To being a tenured academic, lecturing with adoring audiences at my feet, writing 20 papers a year, and living the dream.
But more insightful is this answer: Nick Nicholas’ answer to What are your 3 worst mistakes? Would you fix any of them if you could go back in time?
And, perhaps most critically, I wasn’t prepared to leave Australia and spend the rest of my life hunting for the next tenure-track gig, like some modern day wandering minstrel. I knew myself—not just what I’d been brainwashed to be: what I actually was. I needed to lay down roots. I needed a sense of place.
[…] That Cavafy poem? He titled it Che fece… il gran rifiuto.
He left out two critical words in the Dante verse he was quoting. Che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto. He who made the grand refusal—through cowardice.
Was I a coward? Yeah. But I was also being me.
My hamartia was not so much arrogance, in the end, as fear of instability.