Monday, January 5, 2015

"Step"

“I'm stronger now, I'm ready for the house
Such a modest mouse
I can't do it alone, I can't do it alone.”

Step – Vampire Weekend


Today is January 5, 2015.  It has been six days since I’ve written a blog.  My life is changing and therefore my priorities are changing, too.  I’ve enrolled in an online Master’s Degree program in American history.   As part of the entrance process, I had to write a paper.  Before I could write the paper, I had to read two books, over 700 pages total.  Then I had to write the paper based on the reading and the essay question.  A former teacher and his wife graciously agreed to edit my first draft.  The process was humbling to say the least.  I’m entering new territory as a writer.  This paper wasn’t a blog.  It had very specific requirements.  While it required my “voice,” it also required analysis, a cogent argument, a synthesis of the readings, and my own ideas.  I feel not unlike a marathon runner.  And I haven’t even been accepted into the program yet.
What does this mean with regard to my blogs, to my house on the beach?  Do I still want to write?  Am I holding onto my goals?
Yes.
And yes.
I’m going to continue writing, but I’m probably not going to write every day.  If I get accepted into the program then that will take the largest amount of my time.  It will need to be a priority if I want to do it well.  And I do.  I’ve mentioned my two major educational experiences before.  In my undergraduate work, I did not have a clear direction or the proper work ethic. I graduated and, at times, I did well, but overall I didn’t excel.  As a graduate student, I did well, but I had no passion for my discipline.   I have no regrets.  Both experiences have helped me.  But now I have a chance to excel and pursue a passion.
But this first assignment made one thing very clear:  this won’t be easy.  It will take time, self-discipline, and careful thought.  I will have to manage my time and my priorities.  My biggest challenge will be to stay focused and not get distracted.  I’m easily distracted.  Buddha said, “The mastery of the self is the greatest victory.” 
That is the victory I will be trying to achieve.
At the same time, I don’t want this experience to seem negative.  As I said, history is a passion and now I can go beyond being a history “buff” to being an actual historian and, hopefully, a history teacher.  I’m excited about this.  I’m excited about the personal and academic growth I will experience if I can stay on task.  I also feel privileged to be allowed this opportunity. 
It’s my belief that when we do something well, even if it means sitting alone in a room for hours and pouring your heart and soul into something barely a handful of people will see, you are making the world a better place through self-mastery, through courage, through persistence, through determination, and through love.  Self-growth is its own reward, but the benefits extend to others.  As I grow and learn, I will, by necessity, take that into the world.  It can’t be helped.   As the growth of a tree provides shade, so our own personal growth provides comfort for others. 
So my stated goal is to write at least 200 blogs this year.  That’s less than half of what I wrote last year, but I’m going to be pretty busy and I want to do well with what’s coming.  The good news is that, if I get accepted into the program, and I’m sure I will, it won’t start until March, which gives me two months to write blogs.

I’m about to be given an opportunity to do well with something I love.  I’ve written over 800 blogs in the last two years and perhaps that was preparation for what’s coming.  I’m excited and scared.  This is big, maybe bigger than anything I’ve done for a while.  Or maybe it’s just the next logical step.  But I don’t want to do this alone.  I want my Muse here.  I want the people I love to love me through this.  I want them to remind me to Get Started and Keep Going…with every step.