What I Should Have Been Doing

936 hours of inactive blogging, hours that were filled with home improvement projects, camping in the woods, a gaggle of reading, and a smidge of blogging apathy. To be honest, I am not sure if the apathy is completely purged from my bones, but I felt it has been long enough, and though I don’t feel I have anything to say, I decided to write whatever comes to mind.

After the spring semester was over, but before I went on vacation, I spent a lot of time working alone in my office, which for the ordinary, well-adjusted person would mean lots of productive time, but which for me meant lots of time to be reflective, introspective, and generally not productive. (I think I need activity around me to function as a kind of white noise to keep my mind from its innate tendency toward becoming absorbed in the riddles of my soul, my general anxieties about my spiritual well being, and the problems of the human condition.) So, in the midst of one of these reflective excursions I was thinking about what it is that makes certain scholars become respected authorities and known leaders in their field. Particularly, I was thinking about well-known composition scholars Peter Elbow and Andrea Lundsford, and as I thought about their work what struck me is that they are deeply passionate about their subject matter. This is not to say that discipline is not involved in their cultivation of mastery and success, nor that other qualities and forces contributed to their developing reputations. Rather, it is to say that in the midst of it all, passion was certainly a critical ingredient in their success. Once this thought struck me, I also became aware of another related thought, that though I do find composition and rhetoric interesting, and certainly a worthwhile field, I do not see myself becoming a composition scholar. In response to all this, I immediately began to inquire what my passion might be, and just as immediate, it became clear that I am most passionate about theology, culture, history, and spirituality.

As an undergraduate I pursued a degree in intellectual history, which allowed me to get my hands on philosophy, theology and literature with an historical emphasis. The first time I pursued a graduate degree, I pursued a Master’s in theology, which was stimulating, sometimes exhilarating, and sometimes frustrating. After I finished the degree in theology the reality came crashing down on me that unless I wanted to go into ministry I wasn’t going to be able to do much with it. As a consequence I decided to pursue another Master’s degree in literature, which through various circumstances gradually, yet informally, morphed into a composition degree that I have yet to complete. So, here I am with my eyes perhaps a little more open realizing that though there are a lot of professional opportunities for those with a composition background, I cannot really pursue this degree nor go into this field with the kind of passion and integrity I believe should be given to higher education.

I have just turned 40, I have a wife, four kids, a mortgage-sized school loan, and I have the insane hope that somehow I can get into a doctorate program to do what I probably should have been doing all along.

5 Responses to “What I Should Have Been Doing”

  1. Roger Green  

    When I was in a group Bible study oh 12, 13 years ago, we got into the Pauline discussion of our various gifts in 1 Corinthians 12: gift of discernment, gift of the Word, etc. It helped me somewhat in deciding what NOT to do.
    Read it again, maybe with some interpretations, and see where the Spirit might lead you.

  2. Anthony Velez  

    Roger – thanks for the word, and I did read 1 Cor 12 in response to your suggestion. I have to add, however, that I am not actually trying to figure out what my gifting and calling is, as it has become clear to me that my forte is theology and Church history. My struggle currently is that in order to get a job teaching such things at the college level I have to get a doctorate degree, and at this point in my life that would be quite a balancing act. So, I am primarily looking for provision (the time, the opportunity, and the money) to finish what I have started.

  3. Simon Jones  

    Anthony, you have joined my ‘friends over 40′ club. It’s getting less and less exclusive these days and I’m going to be there soon enough myself. I guess soon enough I’ll have more friends over 40 than under 40 at which point I’ll have to create a couple of new clubs, ‘friends under 40′ and ‘friends over 60′ – I’m going to miss the 50 milestone to give us all some breathing room :-)

    I’m looking forward to spending some time with you next month dude!

  4. John Espino  

    Yo Bro….

    Don’t “Should” on yourself, as that “Should” road creates false guilt, lends itself to discontentment, and then takes you to “auto-row” looking for convertible sports cars….:)

    Thanks for your honesty and transparency that I think most middle aged men can relate with, if they were being truly honest. I should have gone to clown college and have been touring with Ringling Brothers…..well at least that’s what my kids tell me I shoudl have been doing.

    Doing, Being, legacy, accomplishing……20 year reunions, 25 year reunions….How about “one day at a time” and resting in HIM…..Yah…that’s what I will do today. Let’s focus on that JOhn.. Good job….”It is what it is” …..Oh by the way, that phrase is taken as a web domain…Darn!

    Hope all is well bro…..By the way, The Seabring convertible is my fav…

  5. Anthony Velez  

    John – I agree with you, but you know how it is in the complexity of our human existence. I can at once hold to the value of not living with regret, not being beat up with shoulds, and yet feeling the shoulds knocking on my heart’s door. Overall, I realize that often we are not in the right place internally and externally to see, learn, or receive something, until we are actually in that place, and that’s just how it is. So, on some level I had to go through the different experiences I went through to come the place where I can see what my passion is, and how my talents and experiences are indicating what my calling is. Along with this, I realize that in many ways I had to go through what I went through in order to develop the kind of convictions and understanding that will become an integral part of my voice in scholarship and writing.

    In the mean time, what I do see is that nothing can really stop my education, except for myself. I have the tools and skills needed to educate myself in my field of burgeoning interest, and begin to equip myself for that time when I can enter into a doctorate program. Moreover, in order for me to be the kind of professor and scholar that I want to be in the future, I must practice fidelity in the things (big and small) that God has set before me now. It is like Jesus said, ultimately our bread is God’s will. Everything else is junk food.