How The Long Way Around Has Made Me Happy

After a personal philosophy crisis that I timed perfectly with the end of last semester I decided that during the spring semester I would only take four classes. If I valued my sanity and wanted to get my head back into school I knew I could not take the average load of five classes (especially since the classes I signed up for were not going to be easy).

The four classes I signed up for: Code, Culture, and the Postmodern; Women and Modernism (aka Gynomod or The Womb); Aesthetics in Philosophy; U.S. History since 1945. You might not be able to tell from this list of classes but, I am actually a History major. After last semesters stumbling I decided to hell with what I “should” be taking and signed up for classes that sounded interesting and I knew would challenge me. I took a deep breath and plunged into unfamiliar territory.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by shauser

The first few weeks were thrilling and I found myself in that sweet spot of uncomfortable but, not paralyzed (how I love this phrase). I often left classes with what I can only describe as feelings of floating. My brain would be racing, making connections, flying through a myriad of thoughts. This was the most stimulating semester I had ever encountered; this is the learning I had been seeking. Not that everything is perfect, it never is, but I have finally reached a point in my education where I understand deeply that I don’t have to be perfect. Perhaps my acceptance of not being perfect came about because I was taking classes where I knew I would not be perfect, I would not be the most trained or knowledgeable in the classes. This semester has put to test my ability to think, analyze and synthesize because I cannot hide behind what I know or my training as a historian.

Currently we are at the half way point of the semester and I am surprised and delighted to find that the feelings of floating and flying persist. I am beginning to formulate my own theory of aesthetics, wrap my head around modern female writers, and flesh out research for the code and postmodern class. Even at the midway point of the semester I already know it is the forming of my own understanding and framework around these subjects that will be the most rewarding outcome of the semester, not the grade. The funny thing is I don’t really need these classes to graduate in fact I should be doing something about history GPA but, I don’t think I would trade in this semester for being on track. My priorities aren’t perfect but, when the joy of learning sings its siren song how can anyone resist it? I know I can’t. In the long run I know what I actually learned, not how long it took me to reach some arbitrary finish line, will be of real value and I believe I will be a better person because of it.


4 Responses to “How The Long Way Around Has Made Me Happy”

  1. 1 Gardo March 6, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Deeply happy to hear this.

    Quite a lineup of awesome courses (and awesome teachers) there.

    A bit sad to see that the only course you can’t link to is the one in your major….

  2. 2 sehauser March 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Yes, I tried not to point out the obvious in the line-up of classes. Luckily, that type of class occurs less in the history department these days.
    If anything the history class sits in such stark contrast from the other three that it is abundantly clear where real learning is occurring. I call that class my buzz-kill because it follows my philosophy class where often leave with my head going a mile a minute.

  3. 3 bill March 6, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    If I were to take a course to challenge me, it’d be either a language or a hard science course.

    And you’d never see me again.

  4. 4 sehauser March 7, 2010 at 10:03 am

    @bill Haha yeah there is hard and then there is the “no way I would make it” hard. I chose the former rather than the latter. I actually wish I could take more science courses here but, there is not much to take that isn’t a basic 101 class if you aren’t inside the major, alas.

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