… not that I have not been slowly adding to my second 900 miler map, but blogging had to make way for research and dissertations and other life pursuits. Now I have a few hundred miles to catch up on but I also have a new adventure in the works.
I guess the adventure officially started with obtaining my permit to hike the John Muir Trail. The adventure is a reward of sorts to myself on the completion of my Ed.D. this coming May. Pursuing a terminal degree in your fifth decade is probably an odd thing to do, but it fits with other paths I have set out on in my life. At the time, it made sense to cut a pathway to my last career leading into my retirement years. This in itself was a change for me because I have always had my finger in the wind and shifted direction when new opportunities revealed themselves. But this was different. I figured I could find a teaching job at a nice small college in the mountains somewhere and spend my off-days hiking. I was offered some sage advice that obtaining a terminal degree might provide added credibility and qualification to such a pursuit so I found a way to ‘ejecate’ myself while maintaining my current lifestyle. So over the last 4 years, I have been writing papers, researching topics, and generally dipping my toes into the pool of the academic life. Little did I know, my academic life would find me early than I had planned and I now have a great gig teaching entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, a medium sized city near the mountains where I can hike on my off-days. I must say, the pool of academic life feels just fine!
Becoming a “doctor” of anything is not a trivial pursuit. It is, in part, a matter of survival in that research and academia has it’s own flow, its own culture and its own processes, into which one must acclimate. The experience is intentionally rigorous as it should be and by the third year, you are over half way but still far from the finish. But the underlying blessing is that you can begin to see the finish line from where you are and it slowly gets bigger as it materializes from the desert mirage that has loomed before you for so long. Then, just as momentum is gaining, you hit the last obstacle; a big pool of quicksand called the Dissertation. It is the epitome of your introduction into the academic life and just like boot camp, it is academia’s way of making sure you are cut out for this life and it throws everything at you; literature reviews, comments from your committee, endless revisions, making changes for the sake of making changes. But the biggest challenge no one prepares you for is the one that tests your perseverance to its very limits. That is figuring out how to generate a Table of Contents in MS WORD. I really wish I had those 6 hours of my life back.
Long into this experience, you provide yourself with motivation and encouragement by thinking of what life will be like on the other side. If you notice, there is a quote at the headline of this blog by one of the founding fathers of the wilderness experience for its own sake. This quote has been a guiding star for me ever since my awareness turned to it. It is only fitting to celebrate the culmination of this life milestone by walking the path honoring the one who showed me how to walk in the Garden itself.
So now, my 2nd 900 Miler Map has an added purpose; to prepare me for the 217.9 miles of the John Muir Trail. I’ll be sharing the planning of this adventure as it comes along.
“Between every two pines is a pathway to a new world” – John Muir