Monday, March 09, 2009

On Journeys and Destinations

I have been experiencing something of a dry spell. Although there is much to say, the words are not forthcoming. It’s not as though my experiences are any less profound; it’s just that I feel like I’ve already said it. But that’s not it either. Life has been good, it’s been challenging… but at the same time, it feels just a little bit stagnant. It’s not, but it feels that way. And that is a perceptional issue to be sure. Everything is, really, for in the grander scheme of things, the world is always the same.

I have been known to say that the difference between what my life is today and the regular misery it once was is my perception of it. My life has indeed improved in ways I never even dreamed possible, and that is in fact a change in my world – real change – but it started with a new perception. It took some time, but slowly optimism replaced pessimism, positive energy begat positive energy and the physical elements that define my reality started to change. I am no longer a victim.

And as much as the material things in my life make it more comfortable, they are not responsible for the peace I experience. These are not irregular, widely scattered moments of peace, it is the norm; it is an overarching serenity that I feel all of the time. It would exist even if those “things” were to suddenly disappear. I used to seek for things external to create what I thought would constitute happiness. If only I had enough money to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it… If only I had that perfect mate… the prestige… whatever it was, but I never dreamt it could be found within me.

But that is where it was all along. In retrospect, it makes so much sense. Of course it was - it had to be. What I enjoy today more than anything else is who I am. It’s not so much that I didn’t like myself before (although, that was certainly true to an extent), but more that I didn’t really know who I was. Oh, sure, I have accomplished some things, experienced many others and, looking back, I can find enormous value in that experience. But I was coasting through life with blinders on, never having a true sense of where I was going – or when I would get there.

The irony in that perspective is twofold: First, I still do not know where I am going and secondly, I never will arrive there anyway. The difference between then and now is perspective. Although it is true that I am not sure where this little journey will turn next, the fact remains that I am moving, with determination and fortitude. The path I have traveled for the past five or so years has seen my efforts rewarded with that inner satisfaction that money could never buy. As far as a destination is concerned, well, if I arrive, doesn’t that mean I’m done? Not interested, this ride is exciting like none other – I am all in.

When I re-entered college after so many years of chipping a little here and a little there, my goal was simply to gain an AA degree at the local community collage. I never did get that AA, opting instead to transfer to California State University, Sacramento to earn a BA in journalism. I didn’t get that either, deciding instead to change my major to government-journalism (a quasi dual major combining political science with journalism) so that I could distinguish myself in the world of journalists. Although I did achieve that degree and I did work as a journalist for a short time, my appetite for education was not quenched. Not even close.

My decision to return to school to earn my Master’s degree at 45 years-old was spawned by the fulfillment academia gave me. A Master’s would qualify me to return as a professor in a community college. That is still more than a possibility - it is the plan. But I still have some time before completing my Master’s. And that was going to be enough. However, there are higher levels of achievement that are looking more and more enticing. I have spoken about it, I am seriously considering it, and now I am writing it. It looks like the pursuit of a Ph.D. is not even a remote possibility - it is likely.

Five years ago, it was an impossibility, I couldn’t even see myself wanting it. The difference today is (and always was) perception.


Star said...

I was nodding in agreement as I read. I am a bit older than you and find myself looking back almost as much as I look forward these days. Yes, the perception is different. But I needed all those steps to get me where I am today. Sounds like you did too. Netchick sent me.

David Edward said...

go for it. school is cool!
will we then have to call you Dr. Althouse?
here from Dr. Netchick

Michael K. Althouse said...

I'm thinking I'll not use that tittle except when in professional situations... sounds a bit ostentatious for everyday use.

sage said...

Go for the doctorate (especially if they'll fund you), but don't use the title. I like the way it sounds that you have found peace--it's almost a platonic peace where the passions are no longer at war, or even a religious peace where one trust in God.

Here from Netchick.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I like the sound of Doctor! If you earn, you deserve it. Go for. Netchick sent me over this weekend. Have a great weekend.

JoeinVegas said...

Hmmm, Doctor Mike; sounds pretty good.

Snaggle Tooth said...

It sounds like your journey is self improvement, n your destination is "better than before."
Hmmm, that may be a new song-