Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Crawling Out of the Cave

When I arrive at my professor's house this evening for our end-of-term dinner, my first semester of doctoral studies will be over. I'll cross the threshold with a 31-page paper, a nice bottle of Chardonnay, and a great sense of gratitude for the opportunities I've had this semester to grow as a thinker.

Now, I'll admit: when I look at the shelf that holds all of this last semester's books and articles, I'm astonished at how much I've had to read. An enormous stack of substantive articles - around 40 of them - were the basis for one course. Another course required ten texts, another one required eight, and the third necessitated another ten. Lots of reading, lots of thoughts, and a lot of stuff I've forgotten along the way!

I had hoped that I'd have the energy to blog regularly, but this has clearly not been the case. I spend so much of my time reading, or writing, that the idea of sitting down to write more is downright daunting. Doctoral studies, I've discovered, necessitate a certain type of ascetic practice, almost a monasticism. Many of my waking hours are spent in the library where my body sits quietly as my mind climbs mountains of words and swims vast oceans of ideas. Then, for about four weeks at the end of the semester, I'm invited to write something of a travelogue of those journeys - these are often ominously called "final papers" - to share with the instructor some of the fruits of my labors. These travelogues this semester exceeded 100-pages of writing, which does not count the many weekly writing assignments that were turned in all semester.

So, right now, I'm just crawling out of the scholar's cave. It's been an amazing semester and it's hard to believe it's over. I'm filled with relief, confidence, a desire for a massage to get rid writing tension, and a sense of tremendous gratitude.

If you've been checking these pages, I thank you for your patience. I hate leaving the blog dormant for long stretches, although I suspect readers understand if this gets less attention than before. I'll do my best to post over the next few weeks, not so much to make up for lost time, but to get back in the habit so that I don't fall away too drastically next semester. 

3 comments:

Tzipyo said...

When I did Ph.D. studies, my advisor told me: Doctoral work is a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week job.

I came to understand the truth of that statement. True doctoral work is different from a series of "take-a-course" programs that mime true doctoral studies. If you feel as though you are: eat, sleep, drink study, then you're truly doing doctoral work! Congratulations on one semester accomplished!

Jane

Austin LeClere said...

Ryan,

Keep your head up all great accomplishments come with sacrifice. However, now that you are almost done celebrate the fact that you have climbed a huge mountain and accomplished so much.

I have just started reading your blog and I love it so far, cant wait to hear more about yourself, your teachings, and stories of you life.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to take a moment of your time and tell you how much I've enjoyed finding and reading your blog. I've been reading for months but have never taken the time to comment. My children introduced me to you through your tin whistle tutorials as they continue to play. I've started playing too, I've much to glean. I'll close by quoting my Grandfather with regards to your PHD studies. "Anything worth doing, is worth doing right." We truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.