Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

6.11.2016

Words, Words, Words


There's a character in the movie Kicking and Screaming who has been in college for ten years and keeps amassing degree after degree. He's a cautionary character; IMDB summarizes the movie as, "Following graduation, a handful of college students do nothing and talk about it wittily," and the theme is that the characters need to be dragged kicking and screaming from the sheltered existence of school into the real world of adulthood. Chet, the career student, is the cautionary example of who the others don't want to end up as. Nevertheless, when I saw it I couldn't help but relate and feel a bit jealous of him. Given different means, I could have been Chet. Not because I wanted to avoid the "real world," but because I enjoy learning and academics and would have loved the ability to study far more topics in depth than a traditional degree track allowed.

I've written before that I highly value being a generalist and the doctoral program that has most tempted me is an interdisciplinary one that focuses on the connections between different fields of study. Accordingly, picking a major for college was not an easy decision for me. After high school, I had no idea what I wanted to study--aside from everything. My test scores were good enough I could have gone to school anywhere, but I ultimately decided to be pragmatic; the first two years will be the same general classes no matter where I go, I reasoned, so I'll save money by living at home and getting those classes out of the way at the local community college. The advisor I landed wasn't much help, so I enrolled in classes that reflected what I was used to in high school--some math, some literature, some science, etc.--and after two years I found I had earned a degree.

Unfortunately, I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I took a semester off from school to work, which was enough to convince me to make my mind up about a major and get back at it. After much hair pulling, I finally decided I would study wildlife biology with the intent of becoming a park ranger or something similar. I enrolled in another round of courses at the community college for the spring semester with the plan of transferring to one of our state universities the next fall.

That was the plan. The first day of classes, though, I had to come up with a new one. The first session of my Chemistry II class, which I was taking as a requisite of my newly chosen major, reminded me how much I had hated my Chemistry I class. It met once a week for three hours. I spent the first hour-and-a-half stewing and reflecting, then made an uncharacteristically impulsive decision. At the break, I walked over to the admission office and unenrolled from the class. Just like that, I was no longer going to study wildlife biology.

So. There I was, in need of a new plan. The chemistry class had been my only practical one for the semester--I had enrolled in other things that sounded fun so I was a full-time student, but it had been the only one with a purposeful endpoint. Still, I started looking at the other courses I was taking. One was Shakespeare and another was the Oral Interpretation of Literature. That's what had sounded most interesting and engaging to me out of everything on offer. With a little thought, the common theme became apparent to me, and I realized more than anything what I enjoyed doing was reading and talking about books.

At the time I decided to become an English major with the intent of becoming a high school teacher, but in hindsight I realize that epiphany was my first step in becoming a librarian.

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