Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

An Amendment

with 2 comments

As the heat of this first summer day dies away in the west, I’ve spent the last twenty minutes of this early evening reading over the posts that are currently visible on the blog. I noticed that it takes a while to get to something of substance. The last month’s posts have been comprised of a few funny stories; the striking, brilliant white glimmering of the the peony in the previous post; and a riveting set of book reviews (I know you were riveted).

Before reading through the posts I was sorting through some pictures from this spring and I’m struck by the contrast between some of the photos. Life today, in the full bloom of spring, feels like the photos of the last few days: full of light and sun and hope and anticipation but as the pictures filed under “Spring 2007” reminded me, the pensive darkness of the previous months really isn’t that far away.


It’s hard to think it’s been just three weeks since I successfully defended my masters thesis . . . not many more since I passed the PhD qualifying exam which hung like an ax over my head for five months as I worked every Saturday between October and March to prepare for it . . . Charity worked for months and months and months on her masters project, a process which beat and demoralized her not just for seemingly endless months but for the prospect of many more months ahead if the committee dragged her into another round of revisions. All of these things disheartened us, not just for the evenings and Saturdays spent on arduous tasks, but also for their ominous, foreshadowed potential of failure after so much struggle. How many nights of tears? How many days of frustration?

To be honest I’m not sure how to think about those many months and many nights from the light and sunshine of the other side. Could it ever have looked that bleak? Couldn’t we see that in May the outcomes which we knew would be decided for good or ill would be here and our lives less full of anguish? And should I think about the darkness of those months or let them roll past and fade into a forgotten past as much as we can? . . . but they were so poignant and so full and so heart wrenching.

In early April, as good result after good result rolled in, pass, pass, pass, our good friend, SC, examined us with excitement. I think he was looking to see if our shoulders had visibly shifted in posture and he speculated about what kind of people we would be like as we frolicked in the sun, still newlywed, now newly minted with graduate degrees.

It’s interesting because I think we have done a lot of frolicking. We have done a lot of gardening, some reading, and our upcoming trip has us full of excitement. It feels good to be done, to have the burdens which have laid so heavy for so long removed. It feels good to have degrees, credentials, and at least the illusion of status. It does feel like our burdens have been lifted.

The binary nature of the shift is a bit disorienting. Less than six weeks ago it was unclear if either of us would graduate and we both wondered if we could have toiled for so many years to come out beaten in the end. Just four weeks later, we both have degrees and that’s not likely to go away. I think for some people a degree is a triumph or a forgone conclusion . . . or something they conquer and at the end they feel like mountain climbers: surveying the view of the future from the peak they have labored up. Our degrees feel like we have emerged through a dark, brutal battle, full of feelings of helplessness and dread . . . and one that was partially of our own making. I’m not wishing to return to it.

In some ways I feel like the hostas I transplanted a couple of weeks ago into the bed under the window I’m sitting in. During the winter I had moved some rocks not realizing that there was a hosta bed underneath and when I shifted the rocks this spring I found the hostas: pale, smushed and growing sideways in an effort to find light. I’ve since moved them to a bed of speckled shade and they are making a come back.

For us I don’t wonder so much about our come back as how (and whether or not to) feel/process/understand those many dark months.  Especially as the beauty and hope of the spring sunshine and the light-shade mix around us.


Written by furthermusings

May 2, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Pictures, Reflections

2 Responses

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  1. Congratulations! It’s good to hear about people doing well when you’re very much in the middle of your own struggle.


    May 4, 2007 at 10:32 pm

  2. Excellent post, Andy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts…


    May 8, 2007 at 9:22 pm

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