Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PhD or any endeavor worth its salt

I have mused for sometime whether or not I would pursue the highest academic degree, and in so doing make possible my desire to teach in the college classroom, indulge my appetite for philosophy, and be right in the midst of a meaningful life by waking each day to pursue an inspiring, if difficult task. Victor Frankl conjectured that finding meaning in life was the difference between those who survive and those that do not. The context in which he said this was the holocaust. Man's search for meaning is found in meaningful tasks. Short of life and death, meaning is the difference between those that live an inspired life versus a muddling along life. I am reminded of the adage that it is not the destination but the journey that is important.
Bearing in mind the cost and time of a PhD, I thought it prudent to consult sagely advice before diving headlong into several years of education and costs. And so, I wrote an email to one of my favorite authors: Michael Inchausti, scholar on Thomas Merton, author of several books including, Subversive Orthodoxy, a favorite of mine, and Spitwad Sutras, a book that discusses the sublime vocation of teaching in the classroom.
I found Inchausti's email on the Cal Poly website. Surprisingly, he responded to my query within a few hours. This is better turnaround then many friends of mine would do.
His advice: Hesitation to recommend pursuing a PhD to anyone. Reason: university jobs are increasingly scarce and the cost to earn one is high. He followed this grim outlook by imparting the sage advice I was after: if it is choosing you, pursue it.

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