i guess i shouldn't say "almost" done – in terms of exams, we haven't even started and there are many more hours of one-sided interactions with books and computer screens and statutes, but there is a larger-scale "almost" to which i refer. that is, chris is almost done with school!!! i wanted to take a quick moment from my studying to say how incredibly happy i am for him, and how proud i am of this awesome accomplishment. i know many people who have dropped out of school. i think i know one who went back, and that's chris. wait – let me change that. i know two, and the second is chris's mom (i guess this makes a lot of sense!) i don't think that going back is for everyone. oftentimes, life gets in the way, or maybe you just are extremely gifted in a way that is inconsistent with higher education (these are the lucky extreme minority). but, for most of the people who drop out, it comes down to a new routine from which escape seems impossible. going back means time. it looks like a road block of sorts to many people. it's removing yourself from a life to which you've grown accustomed and throwing yourself back into something that seems, somehow, less important and less demanding of your time. when there are bills and relationships, kids and getting by to tend to, studying literature or business theory seems to take the backseat. the conditions under which chris returned to school are probably as difficult as they come. he integrated back into a small, homogenous institution, full of students who fail to bring life experience to the classroom. he's graduating from one of those small, elite private colleges entered into the august following your high school graduation, and departed from four years later. there aren't adult students; there are barely any part time students. in some ways, i think that going stright to college after high school is a wonderful thing. you learn a lot about yourself and the world; how to think and analyze and interact. but going to college later gives you another important gift – perspective. some people gain perspective while in college, and others gain it in the real world and bring it with them. i think a classroom filled with both is where you learn the most. those kids are lucky to have chris among them, who have experienced both types of perspectives.
i remember the african religions class that i took during the short time that i spent at the university of tennessee, knoxville. there was a woman in the class, probably mid-40's. i will never forget her. she knew more than the rest of the class combined – and not because of some strange penchant for african religions, but because she did the work. all of it. and she wrestled with the information. in all honesty, she made the class. she challenged the rest of us, and forced us to think differently about whatever it was that we were studying that day. she singlehandedly made me become engaged in the class. i didn't skip african religions.
UT and OSU are similar – the students aren't as easily capable of being typecast as the point loma or washington and lee students. a 40 year old indian woman or 65 year old grandpa or 35 year old ex-NFL linebacker can slip into a classroom virtually unnoticed. well, perhaps not 100% unnoticed, but without too much incidence. and the class would be better off for their presence and for the viewpoints they would bring to discussion. learning isn't always about reinforcing your own opinions and ideas, but about placing those opinions and ideas in the same ring with very different ones, and then asking if your still stick. many times, you'll find that they don't. and if they do, well, then you've found something you actually believe in passionately.
a couple of years back, i dated a guys who dropped out of school to move and live with me. i've since found someone who loved me, and himself, so much that he moved away from me to go back to school. and we're both better because of it. chris, i think you are the greatest and i am so very proud of you. YAY, you're ALMOST done!!!