Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Ocean of Knowledge

I have probably told half a dozen people my analogy for how I feel at this point in a doctoral program: I am drowning in an ocean of knowledge, and I don't have gills. It's not that I am trying to get my head above the "water" - I am actually trying to learn to breath it. That's the best way I can come up with to describe it.

And yet, here I am, not dead, with nearly a month in the program. I have had a whole range of feelings about myself in this process, but I have mostly decided to push forward as far as I can on everything I can manage and accept that everything is adding to my progress. I feel sure I will disappoint someone - a professor, a classmate, myself, my wife, my children - almost weekly, and possibly all of those in the course of this semester. Yet I believe in the process enough to have hope that on the other side of each obstacle a new perspective can be achieved.

I have read more in the last month than I did in all of my undergraduate and MBA classes combinedm, I am almost certain. If not by now, it won't take more than a week or two more to pass that mark.

And maybe, just maybe, I have started to learn to take it in without drowning. I feel like I took my first breath this past week. I am also glad that my classmates and I are doing what we can to help each other to leverage our efforts and work smarter instead of harder. A human being can only work ninety hours a week reading material for so long before it becomes abundantly clear that simply having viewed a page once is not really worth the effort expended. I cannot express how utterly grateful I am to be working alongside such brilliant students and faculty. I have no real way to know what I might have experienced elsewhere, but this group is just what the doctor(ate) ordered for me. I will owe them all a huge debt of gratitude when I am done. I hope somewhere along the way I can be of similar service to some of them.

And before I conclude this post, I have to again thank my wife for even being here. She is suffering the brunt of everything I am going through, and she's holding up better than I could ask anyone to. Her love and support, her understanding... it's beyond comprehension that she is sticking by me. I love her, and don't know if I could do this work without her. I don't think buying her the sports car of her dreams when I get my first chair will cover it - but maybe I'll find some way to show her how much she means to me. I just wish they could print the diploma with both of our names on it, because she'll certainly have earned her part of it.

Well, it is time to dive back in, or to sleep now so I can do so in the morning.

-- Robert

Friday, September 4, 2009

Eating the Elephant

After one week in a doctoral program, the metaphor definitely fits: the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. If I look at all I have to do all at once, I could easily be overwhelmed. Instead I have to take each article, each book chapter, and each assignment and work through it. At this point, I am enjoying the "flavor" of what I am consuming. Truly, my mind is more engaged than it has been in a long time - if not ever. I am extremely grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful people, both among the students and the faculty. So far I have felt very supported by the rest of my cohort and find the free flow of advice and information among us all to be wonderful. I could not have designed a better program for myself.

-- Robert