I haven’t forgotten. I’m not here much, but I haven’t forgotten. I haven’t forgotten my goals. I haven’t forgotten my plans. I haven’t forgotten my dreams. I haven’t forgotten my house on the beach. Most of all, I haven’t forgotten my Muse. Currently, I am on the tail end of my second-to-last course in my Master’s program. A decision, made almost on a whim, changed my life. But it was not a whim. My writing was stalled. I was lacking direction. It was time to take a step, a new step, maybe a bold step. So I’ve been studying American history for the last year-and-a-half. But the truth is I’ve been studying it since1968.
When I was 8 years old, my mother and my two brothers were in an airport waiting to go to Japan. On that trip my mother gave me two things that changed my life. First, she gave me a quarter and told me to buy two comic books, one for myself and one for my brother. Both comics were hugely influential in my life for different reasons but that’s another story. The second thing she gave me, while we were on the plane, was two coloring books, both about U.S. Presidents. I was fascinated. From that moment on, I looked for every book I could on the subject. My favorite was Theodore Roosevelt, but I read all I could. By the time I was 10 years old, I could list all the presidents in order. I also knew all the major wars the United States had been involved in and I had a fairly broad understanding of American history. When we went to other people’s homes, I would read their encyclopedias in search of more information on presidents. I was a weird kid. (I would also look at comic books if any were available.) When I was in 4th grade, I saw my first history textbook and read most of it before the class even started studying history. By the time I reached 8th grade and I was studying history again, under Orland Eck and Richard Shuey, I found that I already knew much of the material.
It is no surprise that I chose history as my major at UCSD. Sadly, it was also no surprise that I did not excel in most of my classes due to a combination of overwork, procrastination, poor study habits, and poor work ethic. Much of my undergrad time was a series of lost opportunities for growth and knowledge. I did some good there and I learned a lot, but I missed a lot, too. I loved history, but I did not want to excel. When I returned to school more than a decade later, I excelled and got my first Master’s degree, but I had no interest in the topic.
Now, I am at a place where I want to excel because of my deep interest in what I’m doing. I also see the not only the topic, but the quality with which I do my work as the key to my future. I still want my house on the beach. I still want to study history. I still want to write. I still want to make a difference in the world. I still want to spend my life with my Muse doing all those things.
So even though it seems I’ve forgotten my Muse or forgotten my writing, I really haven’t. I’m working harder than I have ever worked before, combining love and self-discipline, however imperfectly. I am pushing myself to Get Started and Keep Going until I get this degree. In this way I can Get Started and Keep Going on whatever God and my Muse have for me next because I haven’t forgotten that this is only the beginning, not the end.