Friday, August 31, 2007

The Last Dance...

In a few short days, I will embark on the final leg of my undergraduate journey. I am a mere six units or just two courses away from earning my BA in government-journalism from California State University, Sacramento. When I graduate in December, I will have just turned 45. Since graduating high school in 1981, I have been chipping away at this goal, although for many of those 26+ years I didn’t know where it would lead me. Interestingly enough, I still don’t.

It is, however, leading me somewhere… somewhere positive. It is a significant and relatively recent paradigmatic change for me. The vision I have on my future is at once much more defined and free to go where it may. I have, for the most part, released control of the direction and concentrated on the propulsion. I am in control of the action, never the result. It is far more than mere semantics; it’s an entirely new perception of life. And it is working for me in ways that I never dreamed possible.

Consider my coursework - past: I have completed four full-time semesters of mostly upper division government and journalism classes. Sprinkle in some other upper division required classes and you begin to get the idea. The amount of reading and, more so, the writing was for me unprecedented. Indeed, viewed in total, it would have chased me off. It has in the past. Taking it as it comes, however, has given me the freedom - and the time - to do it and do it well. I have received no less than an A- on every one of the many term papers I have written and I currently have a 3.8 grade point average.

Consider my coursework - present: The two courses that I need to complete are both upper-division government electives. Ancient Political Thought (GOVT 110) and Current Political Thought (GOVT 112). I should have had these two (or two other electives) completed by last semester, but sometimes I think too much… it is documented here. It was recommended by the Government department chair that I take these two classes if I am considering law school - and I am. Although I knew they would be heavy in philosophic theory, after purchasing the books I am quite sure I underestimated just how much. The authors of these fine works include:

Thomas Aquinas
Niccolo Machiavelli
Christine de Pizan
And other more contemporary thinkers.

It’s a daunting list and several pounds of books. But I don’t have to read them all at once and to be honest they are writings I want to read but probably never would on my own. The perspective I have chosen to lead my reality is one of optimism and opportunity - never dread. It is about today, not tomorrow; it’s the journey and no longer the destination. In life there is only one destination - death. Today I am in no hurry to get there.

The other two courses are not required at all, but interest me at least as much. Furthermore, they are very much in line with the kind of work I am now doing and will do in some capacity whether or not I end up in law school. JOUR 131 is a column-writing course and PHOT 135 is a photojournalism class that will take me in new directions photographically. Both should not challenge me too much academically, but might in the time required to complete the necessary work. However, I am not there yet and if I have learned anything in these past (and short) three years, nothing is impossible with a little faith and a lot of work.


Tiffany said...

Congratulations on getting this far! I love reading what you write. "It is about today, not tomorrow; it’s the journey and no longer the destination. In life there is only one destination - death. Today I am in no hurry to get there." This was my favorite part of the whole thing. Where do you come up with this stuff? I wish you the best of luck in whatever road you decide to travel. Seems like you could go quite a few different ways. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

You absolutely rock. Great job! Your 25 year plan is working. I wish I knew some of things you did, earlier. I just turned 45. I got my degree about 5 years ago. Hard battle, but well worth it. Congrats! You so deserve it!

Michele send me again tonight but I'm so glad I came. I am so proud of you!

Shephard said...

My first year of college... Great Books of the Western World... we read 1500 pages a week, and those authors were all on the list.
I bet you'll find them fascinating (and I wish I remembered them, lol).

BreadBox said...

Of course, preliminary congratulations, to be made much warmer in a few months when you are done:-)

As one who has read four of the books on the daunting list, let me say that, yes, the authors are feted for their intellect, even genius: yet at the same time you come at these books with an intellectual and life perspective that saves you idolizing them: I see high school and immature undergraduate students meet "The Prince" and fall in love with the ideas, much as they do with the "enlightened self interest without government" ideas of Ayn Rand and other libertarians.
You have a perspective which acts, to an extent as a prophylactic: see yourself as William in the Name of the Rose, able to cut through the bullsh*t and get to some meat!

Michele would still agree with me, at least on my assessment of you, if not of Aristotle and Machiavelli!


kenju said...

I have read bits and pieces of all those, Mike (except de Pizan) and I suspect you will enjoy some and tolerate others. Law School is a long, hard road; but I am certain that you will do it not only justice - but rise to the top!

carmilevy said...

Photojournalism and column writing: these are the very roots of my journalistic being. You'll have a ball.

Back from Michele's. If anyone told me when I first got into j-school that I'd be writing as much volume as I am today, I suspect I would have freaked out. Yet time and experience have taught me that writing is a process, and you can handle massive amounts of it - and do it incredibly well - if you keep your eyes on the prize.

I like your 'tude, Mike.

Anonymous said...

so glad that you are so close to being done with your BA

Michele sent me to congratulate you.

Anonymous said...

I'm here from Michele's and hope your weekend is wonderful.

It is an inspiration to have read this. I've come to the conclusion that I hate what I'm doing and want to go back to school but have been scared. You put it into a new perspective. I can do it if I do it as it comes. Thanks.

Bernie said...

We, both L and I know EXACTLY where you are at, you can see the finish line, in fact, you can almost feel it!!!

Good luck with the last bit of the course, it will be worth it in the end...

Here from Michele's this afternoon.
Oh, I have a new blog as well, just photos mind you...

craziequeen said...

Good lord, Plutarch, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas amongst others?? Blimey - you'll need plenty of breaks to take deep breaths!!

Michele sent me to say hi and congrats on getting so far with all this education.

You're our star, Mike :-)


rashbre said...

Some great thinkers for your studies. And, like Shakespeare, they all have quite a few famous quotations in currency.

I was chatting with a Philosophy major from the USA a few weeks ago and he was explaining his course did more from China and the East. I think the balance of a few Europeans is well worth it! ;-)


JR said...

Good to see you're still plugging away. I didn't know you planned on law school, I would have said writing of some sort whether reporting, writing novels or movies would have been your ultimate goal. Why law school? Which one? What is your ultimate goal in obtaining a law degree? Having gone down that road already I can tell you what to watch out for and possibly how to direct your steps to reach your goal.

mckay said...

ho hum. is this all you've got going on?


Pat said...

I wonder if you will be sad when the journey is over? You can always start another. I suspect that your quest will, from your choice, continue and I am happy for you.
I learnt a new word - Paradigmatic bu tmy Concise Oxford doesn't make it quite cleat . I'd better ask MTL
Michele sends her best.

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoyed reading The Prince which I assume is the Machievelli you'll be reading.

6 units away? Wow! You're almost there. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Law School too?
Congratulations on getting so far regardless! I envy you having a direction to go in. I've never found anything interesting enough to devote my life to. I'm more a jack of all trades master of none type person!
Michele sent me to visit you today.

Stella Dean said...

That does give me some hope. I have applied to law school, and if accepted, I'll graduate when I am 43/44. I play with myself a lot that I'll be too old for much of anything and competing with those young bucks but the other side of me, the rational side, tells me that this is the course that I am supposed to be on, even if I have put it off too many times to count!

Congrats to you for seeing it through. PS - Michele sent me yesterday but I got sidetracked.

flleenie said...

You obviously have interest in law. You definitely have the determination to accomplish your goals. So if it is what you want, then go for it!

Steve Williams said...

Congratulations as you near the end of your undergraduate education. I finished my own degree later than normal and found I processed and appreciated everything more than I did when I was 19 and dropped out of college.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

November Rain said...

I was glad to see you at my blog again...

a BA wow that is cool :)

November Rain said...

opps I wanted to add that in yoga we learn its not the destination that is important but the journey

and it may have been along haul to that BA but ... well you know :P

Bobkat said...

You are so right. If someone had told me how much work my MBA involved I would have run a mile. Now I see all those books on the shelf and I can't beleive I have read them. The thousands of words I have written too is unbelievable. As you say, once you embark on this path the best way is to take it as it comes. You'll get there in the ned.

Congratulations on nearly getting there!

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

quite a list of thinkers my friend..... glad the finishing line is in sight

as Jed Bartlett says, "what's next?"

awareness said...

Right on Mike! Your courses sound very much up my alley and would love to be sitting in class with you discussing political theory past and present.

Your enthusiasm, focus and determination shared here is inspirational.

I wish you a bon voyage on your last semester......soak it all up. :)

kimbofo said...

From one journalist to another, congratulations!