The terms we use for people who are consumed by their work are usually negative: he's made his job his life; he has no life; it's a job, not your life; all she ever does is talk shop. This is true, I think, even for those in creative fields. Sure, we romanticize artists and may speak enviously of their seeming immersion in an alternate reality--but when it comes right down to it, we're likely still to opine that they Really Need To Get Out More.
And yes: Getting Out More is a good thing. As is Being Well Rounded, and Having a Life, and Knowing What Really Matters (hint: not your work).
But the truth is, I am largely defined by my work.
In saying this, I do not mean that my job is my life. I go days without doing anything for which I draw a paycheque or that moves me any closer to another line on my vita--and though I love my teaching and my research, I still grumble about and shirk them.
Neither are my interests all scholarly: hang out with me for a week, and you'll be forced to admire shoes and handbags and glassware, hear about owls and James Bond, and probably consume lots of vindaloo. But at the same time, I don't think I'm ever not an academic, or not drawing somehow upon aspects of that training or identity.
In my spare time, mostly, I read and watch movies and talk. Few of my thoughts are unexpressed. Little of the information I take in goes un-analyzed. On seeing a new t.v. show, I think: "ooh, I could teach that!" On receiving a baffling email, I think, "what's really going on here? What does that mean?"--and I forward it to two of my friends and spend four days analyzing it.
For the first time in my life, too, most of the people I hang out with are academics: they make up 90% of my friends in Cha-Cha City and more than half of my friends overall (and then, of course, there are the bloggers).
I roll my eyes at my friends who are lawyers and married to lawyers and whose friends are all lawyers. God, I think. Get a life.
But. . . I think I like this. I don't think I've ever been happier.
Maybe I need to get out more.