When I was in college, I decided to write a sonnet.
Perhaps I should step back for a second and say that this was a strange time in my life. I was really, really into the whole “tortured artist” image. Assuming I recall the timeline correctly (it tends to blur for a couple of years), I had just come out of a near-Goth period that was marked by an obsession with Poe, and had become quite enamored with Shakespeare’s poetry. Or, maybe I have those two events backward. In any case, I tried to write a sonnet.
As you probably know, I was a theatre major, and I was exploring some great playwrights’ other literary endeavors at the time (Shakespeare’s sonnets, Tennessee Williams’ fiction). So, it was this whole exploratory phase in which I wrote a disastrous attempt at a poem about a girl I thought I was in love with (unrequited, of course) and had this bright idea that I would write so many sonnets that I wouldn’t have names for them all, and have to entitle some of them by number. You know, like “Sonnet #3.” Because that would just be artistic and cool.
Have you ever tried iambic pentameter? And I thought unrequited love was rough!
The point is that I was branching out my interests, and was early in a process of changing my mind. I began my college career as an applied music major. That lasted a semester before I became a music education major. Then the entire school had to go. My new school, which became my alma mater, welcomed me as a communication major. Then theatre became a second major. Then psychology became a minor, and somehow ended being how I make a living. During the process I wrote for a newspaper or two, took some print layout and technical writing courses, and eventually decided to do a master’s degree in theology.
Honestly, I just can’t seem to make up my mind. Do you see what one little innocent sonnet turned into?
Over the last year or two, I’ve decided that I’m up for a second career, and that I really need to decide on something and stick with it. Ever since that sonnet (and likely before it), however, I’ve had so many interests rolling around in my head that the only thing I can land on as being workable is to be a professor. That leads me to my current preparation to apply to PhD programs, but narrowing my interests into anything less than nebulous is just…well…more difficult than unrequited love and iambic pentameter combined.
Tonight, I was discussing a fast-approaching application deadline with a friend who’s giving me advice from the other end of the whole doctoral thing. He made a passing comment that suddenly seemed to synthesize a really fantastic research idea for this “interdisciplinary” program to which I’m going to apply. It was eureka! moment of sorts, a lightbulb-over-my-head kind of way to pull everything together…but then there was that one loose end that occurred to me that I didn’t think I could make fit…
…and then that led to another…
I’m just a little bit jealous of people like my wife, who has completed two degrees in the same field and will likely stay in that field for her third. That would make life so much simpler! Perhaps I will at some point settle upon which of my interests are primary and which are secondary, come up with some way to triage them into a course of coherent study. But that just doesn’t seem fair when there are all of these really great things that interest me out there.
At best, I’m trying to just stay with my current interests and not pick up any more. That would just leave my brain scrambled. And as for the ones I have, I’m clinging to that magic word, “interdisciplinary,” and pondering, “how am I going to incorporate them? Let me count the ways…”