This will be my last blog post, at least for the foreseeable future. Why? I'm going to be pretty busy with the new post I just accepted. If you don't care to go the link, I'll be working as Associate Director and Dean of Saint Joseph's College of Marian University. Here's the professional picture of me they shared on the Marian press release.
To think about what this change represents, not just for me personally but also for the work I've been doing at Saint Joseph's College, I want to use a concept from the science-fiction character Doctor Who: regeneration. "The Doctor," a time-traveling alien who uses his expansive knowledge and bravery to do good and battle evil, does not die when fatally sickened or wounded. Rather, he regenerates into an entirely new physical form with a slightly different personality. In the Doctor's most recent regeneration, the character even changed genders, going from male to female. Somewhat paradoxically, though the character is still the Doctor and aspects of his being carry over, he still changes quite radically, making the regeneration also a death of who he was. Sometimes the Doctor becomes attached to his form and the life he's built with it, making it difficult to undergo the regeneration. The most poignant of these is the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, who visits all his former companions to say goodbye, then, unable to hold back the regeneration process any longer due to the extreme radiation poisoning he's suffered, he goes through the painful changing process in the following scene.
The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, shares some of this same ambivalence, but puts aside the angst to place his regeneration into broader perspective.
Some of the Doctor's words in this clip are worth repeating:
It all just disappears, doesn't it? Everything you are, gone in a moment like
breath on a mirror...But times change and so must I. We all change, when
you think about it. We are all different people all through our lives and that's
okay, that's good, you've got to keep moving - so long as you remember all
the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day,
These words, and the general concept of regeneration as a metaphor for change in our lives, strike me as incredibly profound. It is time for me, at least metaphorically, to regenerate. There will be aspects of continuity, but also radical change. I'm still working for a Saint Joseph's College, but a Saint Joseph's College that has (by necessity) also regenerated. I'm still going to teach, but I'm moving even further into administration. I'm still going to champion the Core program, but it will have to adapt to a new home and curricular model. Like David Tennant, and I suspect most people facing profound change in their lives, there's a part of me that doesn't want to go. While this new challenge calls for changing my outlook in many ways, I won't forget who I was or where I came from. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.
In the midst of the tumult of the last eighteen months, maybe the most important thing I learned was that there are whole other worlds and possibilities out there to explore, if you'll only look. We got into archery, hiked the Porcupine Mountains, went kayaking, tried growing tea plants, herded turkeys, wrote for the South Shore Convention and Visitor's Authority, and I got into blogging, which I had not even thought to do previously. After witnessing the announcement of Saint Joe's suspension in the Shen Auditorium on February 3rd, 2017, I looked around at all my students and colleagues who would be cut adrift. What would we all do? In a daze, I wandered up to my office, called Jeanette, and then sat there wondering, "Will I ever get to teach and write again? Will I ever get to be me again?" It turns out there were more ways of being "me" out there than I had ever considered, and I'm all the better for it.
Now, it's time to regenerate into another "me" in this role at Saint Joseph's of Marian. Like the Doctor, who's never quite sure what shape he might take (he's called regeneration "a bit dodgy" and "something of a lottery" on occasion), I'm not completely certain what this transformation holds in store. However, I'm looking forward to finding out. Building an educational experience to serve this population of students is too exciting an adventure to pass up.
Since this will be my last blog post for quite a while, I want to thank all those who took the time to read these pieces. It was fun to do, and I still have many ideas that I never put out there, so if, somehow, someday in the distant future, I get the time to blog again, you just might hear from me.
Until then, and throughout the days in between, take care. It's been a joy talking with you.