I have a few thoughts on earning a terminal degree, and I think it's appropriate that it's in philosophy as I muse on the following items:
- That term, "terminal," has always terrified me. You mean like "terminal cancer?" That's not exactly how I want to think of my learning - as a dead end. Rather, it's more of a genesis degree - one that will open up a new world of research and exploration.
- Please allow me to keep going on the idea of opening up new perspectives. Anyone who tells you that they are an "expert" is full of crap. Those three little letters don't mean "I know it all," rather they say, "I know how to do the work necessary to seek the answers." But sometimes, there are no answers. A PhD does not give your opinion the strength of science. Your opinion is bolstered by the research you can do with a PhD. But, c'mon, don't give us your opinion, "Expert in the Field," give us your findings and let us sort it out for ourselves.
- After spending a total of ten years in college, I can safely say with all certainty that I don't know anything. That's the joy of a PhD: it makes you realize that you don't really know everything. Now, after nearly three years of research and the culminating research of my dissertation, I have way more questions than I do answers. But now I have the skills necessary to continue to seek out those answers. But I also know that there might not ever be any "true" answers.
- Truth. Wow. There's a small word with huge implications. Having written a dissertation based on qualitative research, I discovered that each person's truth is truly their own: their lived experiences, their life choices, their own answers - and it doesn't always jive with that of other peoples' "truth." And that's okay. I think that is one of the greatest things I learned through all of this - truth isn't a state of being, it's a process by which we live.
- Edit. Edit. Edit. My advisor asked me to rewrite my dissertation twenty-one times. Twenty-one! I have to admit that, at first, I was livid. But, after successfully navigating my defense with absolutely no problems (except for about a dozen typos), I understand why he made me rewrite it as many times as I did. He forced me to look at it with fresh eyes over twenty times and that made all of the difference. It's a nice little reminder that you can always make it a little better.
So, that's it. I'm a doctor now. Wow. I'm a doctor now...still looks funny as I write it. But I'll get used to it as a new phase of my life begins. But for a couple weeks at least, I'm going to savor it. And, as I do, I want to celebrate the people in my life who made it possible: my amaZing wife, SueZanne; my beautiful kids Emily and Aaron (and his fiancé Kelley who we consider "ours" as well); my mom and dad who instilled me with a curiosity that is still growing; my doctor, Rusty; my faith community leaders, Fr. Mike, Fr. Bob, and Sr. Linda; and finally, but certainly not least in their influence, my friends and students, both former and current - I couldn't have done this without your support.
Now, I'm going to write some music, design a new course curriculum for a college class I'm teaching this summer, and spend an awful lot of time reading and writing.
And, maybe more than once every six months, I'll update this blog.
Peace, my friends,