How do you handle “what now” with grace? You know, that space after the experience, but before the aha? How does that impact the ah ha? The following is how I reasoned through a “what now.”
MAh ha is conceived
I decided to return to academia to obtain a Graduate degree in English with the goal to teach in an organized educational institution. This isn’t always a great fit for someone who questions authority, or maybe it’s the mainstream metaphysical mother of invention igniting (the glimmerings of a MAha).
Attending Graduate seminars, I sometimes wonder if some institutions weed out so many resources that they teeter on censorship. I know, a bit harsh, but I began to ponder this a bit more when learning about a very old and well-thought-out process where scholars (artfully and scientifically) reconstruct original (classic) author intentions (getting close to or expressing up-front that they aren’t attempting to get close, but better express) who have long passed. Once meticulously rebuilt by acknowledged experts (who have their own filters), some of these works become relied upon as close enough to the truth — according to a committee or certain groups — and renders all other sources less (if at all) credible. My simplistic and tentative MAha is OK, I get it, I rebuild my reality — the world according to Michelle A. Payton, Mainstream Metaphysical Mom — daily, but how far does this process bleed into other — less scholarly — writing?
Yeah, sure, at this moment I hope that as I chat with you I’m applying correct punctuation and spelling. However, if you follow any of my work you know that I make plenty of mistakes, yet you continue reading. Or, maybe I spoke too soon.
Over Criticizing Snuffs Celebration
If you made it to this paragraph… In academia, some spend so much time criticizing that there is little time to celebrate. Sure, there is a professional responsibility to dissect or expose work that lack certain qualities, but how far should that stretch? I was sitting in a seminar and heard a 20-something student saying (and I paraphrase with a contemporary example), “The ‘Twilight’ series is a bunch of garbage…” I asked, “Did you read the series?” “Well, no, but…” And this is where the prejudice begins. Certain works are not only positioned as being literary messes (How dare NY Times Best Sellers or Independent Authors make money writing and not seek out peer reviews mindset), but anyone who reads them are equally less than.
A Grad student (now friend) a bit older than I (yep, it can happen) shared a story about an English professor who entered the seminar room, recklessly tossed all attendees papers on the table and complained, “I am too old to read this kind of crap!” (Frankly, if this happened in my presence I would have been escorted out by security.) Where does this type of behavior end? With the student who already suspected, but then would be thoroughly convinced, that her thoughts are not worthy of any attention.
I value my education and professors in their respective specialties, truly. However, my sentiment is one of the reasons why many students (not on a scholar path) fail to reach their fullest potential is that they are not just corrected (due to some very straight-forward errors), but are also censored as a result of feeling less than. So let’s be reminded about how important self-approved, life scholars are to learning.
Reminders of the important part we all play in history
Qualitative evidence comes to mind outside of my expressed opinion. Old American Civil War letters from men who professed their love, yet had no education, are savored due to their historical quality. Casual snapshots and family photographs, once thought insignificant, adorn museums all over the world (tracking traditions, styles, backgrounds, genealogy). Child-like cave scratchings have become scientific findings to habits of ancient man. I have love letters from 30 years ago from my (now) husband. I’m certain that my kids eyeballs will go up in flames once they read them. I wonder if they’ll make it to the Smithsonian?
Institutional insiders can get stuck in their processes — partially to get funding and fulfill organization requirements which is important to keep the lights on — and can leave little room for invention. My first book (Adventures of a Mainstream Metaphysical Mom: Finding Peace of Mind in a World of Diverse Ideas) was meant to be a family document, for posterity (no comments from the peer review, peanut gallery that would say it should have been kept that way), but I ended up going public: self-publishing. I was excited and insecure at the same time (like I am with every book that has followed), but my suggestion is be courageous. You are the genius, the mover and shaker, the idea person of today that will make history tomorrow. You are a life scholar, the mother or father of invention. You are a valuable teacher. Bring your expressions to paper or whatever your canvas, but start now.
To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com. To read a bit about my academic path go to www.MichellePaytonWriter.com. Speak to you soon.