Monday, October 17, 2016

Cosmic Validation

or, the Universe Provides, when you are on the right path.

So much. So deep. It's going to be hard to convey the exact energy that I'm feeling more and more these days. The past week has been astounding. Ever since the idea came to me... everything has been falling into place and making so much sense.

You may have seen something like this before. I know I certainly have, although I never saw it used with the word or concept of "Ikagi." 生き甲斐, In words, it means, "the Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being". Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. ... In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as "a reason to get up in the morning"; that is, a reason to enjoy life."

I have struggled with this so hard, for most of my life. Nothing has ever made sense to me. Nothing has ever driven me to conquer achievements or challenges. I have always taken a somewhat easy road, kind of mindlessly doing what was expected of me--albeit in my own way, to be fair--but not really sure of myself. Until this week.

It started as a joke. Hubs and I often make jokes about "the impending apocalypse," especially in light of today's politics. As you can imagine, we often refer to the film V for Vendetta, especially compared with the book 1984. Hubs identifies most with the main character V, but I have always had a soft spot more for Stephen Fry's character, Deitrich, the collector.  It's who I identify with. I am a collector. I am a packrat. I find odd value in cultural items that most people overlook. Also kind of like Seymour in Ghost World, with his collection of "Coon Chicken Inn" posters. On deployment, they called me a "data whore" for the many gigs of film, tv, books, and games that I would horde, pieced together from many others' collections. I spent hours organizing, filing, streamlining. It was my zen.

I'm also the go-to for research. For just about anyone. An acquaintance recently got in touch with me regarding wrongful military separations: "Give me ten minutes to get home and I'll send you all the reference numbers you should look up and read." Any time we needed to find information... who came to the rescue? Me.

So here I am, 31 years old, with a BA in English.... taking English 101. I know, right? At first I rebelled against the idea. Then I reluctantly accepted. By the end of the first class I had fully embraced it. I used my AP scores to bypass 101 at my first college. That AP credit doesn't transfer from school to school. I also needed the credits in order to go [close to] full time and get my VA payments. So I figured, whatever, I'll just have a really easy quarter. I can play this game in my sleep.

And now my life has completely changed because I accepted this. We just finished our first essay, 5-6 pages on Paulo Freire and the film Dead Poets Society. My title was, "Splitting the Difference: Escaping Extremes Through Pragmatic Application of Freirean Pedagogy." Mouthful, huh? I haven't been so proud of something I've written in a long time. And apparently that showed!

My English instructor asked to see me after class. He opened the moment saying, "Tell me about your background, you obviously don't need to be in a 101 class. Why are you here?" I giggled; I had decided to try and keep my BA a secret until the end of the quarter. But he had read my paper that morning, and called it "practically graduate level work." When we turned in rough drafts he was a little concerned, because I had used Word's Track Changes feature to leave myself notes; I guess one time a student paid someone to do this, and it was considered plagiarism. But once he realized I wrote both the notes and the paper, he said it was "higher level thought, meta-analysis."

I explained to him that I had a BA and was now going to school for Electrical Engineering. He flat out said, "You know, I think that would be a mistake." I grinned. Because as of this past week, I have come to agree with him. I love electronics. They're neat. But it's not really where I belong. I enjoy the theory and ideas, but the math is killing me. Instead... I have decided to pursue a Master's of Science in Library and Information Studies.

YES I KNOW!!! For some reason, this is HILARIOUS. And I don't know why! Other than, it is exactly what I need to do with my life. Finally. I figured it out. I am concerned at the way print media is dwindling, but as long as we have colleges we will need librarians. They are projecting a 2% growth rate as a career, which is a little less than average, but again... It's something that will never fully go away. There are even some really cool ways to synthesize this reality, hence the "Information Studies" part--for example, Digital Stewardship. Finding ways to ensure data and information is preserved for the future... without necessarily knowing what sort of technology the future will hold. I am on Cloud NINE with this stuff!

The exchange with my instructor today was just validation that I am finally on the right path. It's taken me 20 years to figure it out, and 10 years of stumbling around ignoring it, but I've always wanted a Master's degree. Never wanted to teach, not big on writing as a career. But this... this is IT.

I'm still looking into programs, but I mean it when I say nothing has ever felt so right. And to think of the opportunities. I haven't been this excited about something... well like ever, I think [except maybe developing this relationship, which has also been an amazing journey]. I might even have the opportunity to study in Europe for this. Which would be so awesome.

 I never knew what this was. I did not understand. But now I do. As a side note, the other thing that really pushed me towards this idea is my belief in genetic memory, combined with the book, How the Irish Saved Civilization. Briefly, the book is based around the idea that had it not been for the Irish Monks who insisted on copying, hoarding, and borrowing information, rewriting everything they could, and so had "backup copies" when the Library of Alexandria was destroyed. So not only do I feel this as a personal calling, but it resonates on a deeper, ancestral level for me. We must preserve information. We must pass on as much as we can--we've already lost so much. I feel this, straddling the ancient times and future times, feeling uncomfortable with the present. Things I've never had words for, I'm suddenly able to explain. Or at least get closer to doing so.

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