PhD Weekend Was A Success

Wow. I always feel so energized. I just spent the last week being sleepless, yet I coveted every minute of energy restoring snooze that I snoze. I’m an academic now. I can officially make up words. Well, not officially I can’t, because I’m not a doctor yet. That’s the degree you get to make up words. That’s why it’s called a degree of letters. You can officially make words. But if you are just a Ph.D. Student, like me, you sort of can’t do that yet because, well, you're a student. Which means your Ph.D. parents get to correct your words and suddenly empiricist becomes a title and ontological becomes a vocabulary word, and things like mostest and words like snoze really make sense early on Sunday mornings when you have just woken up from real sleep.

I’ve seen learning occur this weekend. I’ve seen people bond again. I’ve seen leadership displayed. I’ve seen personal discovery. I’ve seen true education. I’ve experienced an open and safe community of learning. I’ve been in a vulnerable place where sharing occurs and not criticism. Not because criticism is not warranted but because criticism is not the purpose at this stage. That will come enough on its own later.

Now we are tiny caterpillars, with a whole world of bushes that we get to devour. I think I just found out what our mascot is. A forest tent caterpillar. We crawl around like babies devouring everything we can with no filter. No ability to say no to new knowledge but soon we will get full.

These weekends are exhausting, but if not for three things: my wife who gives so freely and supports me in this journey, my cohort of learners who contribute to these experiences, and my coworkers who encourage and support. Then there are the faculty. Those amazing and talented stalwarts of learning who maintain the chivalrous line of academic integrity. They know that the line starts and stops with them and they police it with integrity and zeal. I have seen it and I respect it because a great man once said, “There’s freedom within the rules.”

Soon it will be time to pick up books. I’ll go into the office and put the books back on the shelves. It’s a symbolic gesture that signals the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to the week. There’s no doubt that I will get all my books back out again, scrambling to find connections and truth and using them as jumping off points to further explanation or linking points to bridge gaps. But for now, they get put up. Just like we teach children to pick up their toys, academics, especially Ph.D. students, should be encouraged to pick up their books. It’s a symbolic act of cleaning up old ideas and making way for new ones. Cleaning the playroom has a purpose.

So the weekend is over. Enjoy the glow of sweet success. The first presentation is done. You did what a first presentation is designed to do– create learning opportunities. Now go out and eat, filling yourself with knowledge, saying no to nothing. Seeking, striving, tasting and growing.

Just remember to pick up your books.