End of an era

The year 2010 comes to a close this evening. Likewise this year came to a close my undergrad years at Boston College. Although I’m virtually running the super senior track this year with the 1-year philosophy MA, this year was nonetheless the end of a great era of the existence of Michael Williams. Many thanks to those who made the 4 years of my undergraduate studies at Boston College so enriching, fun, and blessed.

So with the new year comes a new era – yes, the continuation of my graduate studies, but then a wide open road. It’s an odd time for me, as this is the first time since January-April of ’06 that I’ve had to ponder seriously the trajectory of my future. It was nice having the luxury last year, during graduation time and the last times spent with many good friends, to delay such decisions – which appear infinitely more mammoth now as an essentially self-responsible “adult” rather than as a virtually totally dependent teenager. What the options are and where the road may be leading remain to be seen – I have a feeling you’ll get snippets of them on the blog over the course of the next few months. What I can say is this. My new year’s resolution for 2011 is… drumroll please…

“To read each week 100 pages of a book for pleasure.”

EXCITING, RIGHT??? Wait, Mike, don’t you do that anyways? Some resolution that is! (Quibble quibble quibble.)

The sad truth is that I have enough trouble getting through the books I actually need to read for class. I’m not sure that fact makes this resolution any more sensible. But let me justify this. Before I left for home for Christmas, a friend from Boston spoke to me all too briefly about how he was leaning towards NOT applying for PhD programs in philosophy because that turned the enterprise of learning into a a form of “common sense,” meant roughly in the sense Lonergan meant it. (This friend was not Alasdair MacIntyre.) That’s something that’s stuck with me over the course of the past few weeks. It’s certainly confirmed my decision also to not apply for PhD programs, at least not for next year. The idea of working or serving for a year (or more) while doing studies “on the side,” not for a job or really for restitution in any way, is right now an attractive notion. Maybe it’s naive but it seems like this might indeed be the best way to pursue learning, knowledge for its own sake. No insane pressure to churn out 20 page papers, no applications or deadlines, no burden of a future-book-to-be-written, no hoop-jupming-through to gain tenure. Just pursuing intelligence for its own worthy sake, letting the pure desire to know unfold on its own terms. Thus my New Year’s resolution – perhaps, conversion – for 2011 to read consistently for pleasure, rather than for any requirement in the classroom (while, of course, not neglecting those classroom duties). Best wishes to all with their own conversions for 2011.

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