the view at 65 is worth it

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Defining and Refining"

The prospect of a major challenge looms large on the horizon. It’s my culminating research project to conclude my graduate studies, sometime around April of 2012. As I read comments from others in my class, about their progress in defining and refining research topics, I am reminded of a quote in one of our textbooks, ( “Doing Qualitative Research,” by David Silverman, quoting Pertti Alasuutari, p.3 ). He said: "Writing is first and foremost analyzing, revising and polishing the text. The idea that one can produce ready-made text is just about as senseless as the cyclist who has never had to restore his or her balance." I would add to that the encouragement of training wheels. Remember them? My training wheels are the adventure of defining and refining, on-the-go, without the worry of having to make cast-in-concrete decisions about the final outcome of my project. As I progress I realize I may disappear into my own project-view, because everyone’s project will be very personal and very different, including mine, but mutual encouragement remains a great asset nevertheless. So to all who find themselves defining and refining whatever your challenges may be, be encouraged.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Lost in the Forest"

I had never intended this blog to become a chronicle about the theories and practices of graduate studies. It is meant to be a journal about going back to school at age 65. An experience of learning. An adventure to bring renewal to my journey as an artist. Not far from here is a place called Cathedral Forest. During the winter, when there are no tourists, it’s a solitary place, a retreat into the mysteries of stately old-growth trees. Giants of fir, cedar and hemlock, who have stood there for well near a thousand years.
Venturing off the path is an adventure in itself. Soon I am surrounded by mossy-green darkness, a silent canopy far above. Even snow cannot penetrate this sanctuary. The ground is choked with nurse-logs, fallen timbers, twisted branches, fledgling trees trying to survive, and decades of decaying forest floor. I am lost in the forest. But, I know the trail is back there somewhere towards the rising sun in the East. Time to regroup, re-assess, get my bearings. There’s an oxygen-enriched air in this grove that is intoxicating. Do I really want to leave? But, I will find my path again, and I know that if I continue in the right direction, I will reach the goals I have set.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

“Keeping the human touch”

I came across the line “keeping the human touch” in my graduate readings of Christine Grosse ( Business Communications Quarterly, 2002 ). It reminds me of one of my weekly highlites, when I catch the first ferry off Gabriola Island (5:25 am), to start the week with drawing coffeeshop people at Tim Hortons. It takes me about 2 hrs to do 3 pages, and some 8 months to fill a sketchbook. I’m 400 pages into Volume 16. That’s a lot of people. Sometimes drawing becomes an engaging conversation with someone. That’s a big reminder that life is about “keeping the human touch.” Then it’s off to Starbucks to begin more readings for the week. Being an at-home studio artist and student, I need the break, right? A fellow cohort member gave me a custom-made Tshirt that says “get your own metatheory.” It was a running joke between the two of us. A savoury moment of human fellowship amidst the rigours of academic study. I had bought him and “official” university coffee mug to concede the contest. He’d won with the puns and ironies. Life can be good especially when you touch someone – for real.

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