Thursday, June 16, 2011

Losing My Way in Academia (and Finding it Again).

I started a Master's Degree in Medieval Studies a few years ago.  I've loved it.  But I've also been unsure of where it has been taking me.  My relative success at conferences and with my colleagues has made me very happy and I've been looking into ways to go even further in this field.  I would love to be a professor of history, or to write books to help people understand what I have learned when they can't go to grad school.  But this ambition has been a problem.

I like my day job.  I program A/V equipment and it is both challenging and rewarding.  Do I quit this career to start over in a new field?  Or do I stay at my IT job and have a strange and seemingly-useless degree in history on my wall?  It's been difficult to justify all of the time I've spent in the library and in class when I could have been doing other things.

But, I recently remembered why I came here.  It wasn't for a job or a new path in life.  It was for the journey.

I've studied Plotinus with Augustine, and I've speculated on the beauty of Nature with Bonaventure.  I've wept for Rome with Cicero.  I've endure the Spanish Inquisition with John of the Cross and learned how to pray with Teresa of Avila.  I walked, like a pilgrim, to Grottaferrata, Italy, with St. Nilus and St. Bartholomew to pray with the monks there, and I've proudly entered the gates of Toledo, Spain, with King Alfonso and The Cid.  I've taken communion in the Visigothic tradition with Cardinal Cisneros and countless others who strove to keep the small tradition alive, and, now, I am a part of that tradition.  I've looked to the sky with Hildegard to understand the cosmos and the God who created them, and as often as possible (but not nearly often enough) I've put aside what I don't need in the tradition of the Franciscans in order to keep my eyes off of worldly things.  I've stood against heresy with Athanasius.  I've ridden against the Saxons with Charlemagne, and been with King Alfred as he pushed the Vikings out of his country and then spent the rest of his life helping the people learn how to read.  With Dante, I've traveled through Hell and Purgatory to explore the Heavenly Spheres, and I've sat at the foot of Philosophy with Boethius as we learned to be consoled through her teachings.

It's a journey I'll never regret.  It was my friend, Brian, who encouraged me to study medieval subjects in grad school while others told me to do something more practical.  He said it would appeal to my inter-disciplinary interests - and he was right.

I might be a professor, someday.  I might be an Audio Video Information Technology (AVIT) Installation Consultant, instead.  (Yeah, it's a long title.)  But I'll never have to justify my decision to study history.  I've rambled through some amazing stories that will always be a part of me, and that's why I started this study in the first place.

3 comments:

  1. Good for you for doing 2 things you love. I feel bad for the people that struggle along with "impractical" degrees under their belt, yet have no other skill to support them. Like it or not, money helps us survive and until you reach some level of tenure with society, educational degrees don't pay much, if any.

    I'm jealous both of where you've traveled and the knowledge you've enriched your journeys with. Well done.

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  2. I'm really humbled to know I was a part of sending you on your way. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: you're great at what you do, and that goes for history and IT. One of the main reasons you're so good at those things is that you clearly love what you do. And anyone who really enjoys what they do will do it well, and will communicate it in a way that makes other people want to know more.

    So, are you officially finishing up the MA this Summer? Did you write a Thesis?

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  3. No, Brian, no,no,no,no,no. I'm not going to graduate for a long time.

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