how the humanities have made me human


i'm not quite sure my brain has had a moment of quiet for the past couple of weeks...
the ideas have been continuous, and i have been trying to keep up.
so i'm taking a moment to empty some of my thoughts here in this space.

i have often had to defend my humanities pursuits in academia to those of a more "practical" nature--
recently, i have had to revisit my defense in light of my more "practical" change of direction.
i only briefly contemplated foregoing finishing this graduate degree in english literature and creative writing. very briefly. because i immediately called to mind and heart everything that the written word
has taught me about humanity. it has taught me that every word counts. it has taught me how to look
into a soul to realize how complex, how very different, how very much the same humans are. it has taught me that fiction is often closer to the truth than simple fact-telling. reading and writing literary criticism has taught me how to ask questions--my own questions and how to find answers, though they are not always so clear and precise. it has taught me that no matter how original we try to be, we always come back to the same essential truths.

i feel a deep sense of gratitude that i have learned how to dig deep into a poem, a novel, a play
and find what moves a human to be human. in addition to pursuing a more "practical" route, i am also
carrying with me my creativity. creativity + real life skills = dreams. i feel that bringing this balance into my life will ignite a fire not necessarily grand, but full of a light that will show me the way.

thank you, shakespeare. thank you, keats. thank you, donne.

{these are some photos from oxford last summer}


Cassie said...

I will never be sorry for my English/Creative writing majors despite my advance into a more "practical" career. That career requires me to be a human in a government position that is often thought to lack humanity. I'm thankful for the healthy balance that creative + practical gives me.

Lisa said...

Powerful! I believe that everyone should have a good, solid humanities education for the exact reasons you just listed. I love this!

Mizi Moo said...

I love the photos of Brasenose Lane...I walk down that lane everyday to eat lunch and would never think to consider it as anything special but there you go, I'll look with new eyes tomorrow!

Your post is right on, spent the day today in the oxford department for continuing education trying to argue that there should be part time opportunities for undergraduate degrees because studying the humanities is so, so important.


tinyparticlesoflight said...

Creativity + real life skills = dreams for sure!


Trude said...

Creativity + real life = you can't go wrong. :) I'm glad you're at peace with your choices! Love these photos of Oxford, it stole my heart too even though I only got to spend a day there.

Gabriela said...

You can't imagine how much I envy you... The places you live and visit, the things you read, the guides you have...
Hugs from far away.... :)

Angy is my name. said...

"He would often use an analogy from nature. 'Ja, Peekay, always in life an idea starts small, it is only a sapling idea, but the vines will come and they will try to choke your idea so it cannot grow and it will die and you will never know you had a big idea, an idea so big it could have grown thirty metres through the dark canopy of leaves and touched the face of the sky.' He looked at me and continued, 'The vines are people who are afraid of originality, of new thinking; most people you encounter will be vines, when you are a young plant they are very dangerous.' His piercing blue eyes looked into mine. 'Always listen to yourself, Peekay. It is better to be wrong than simply to follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you will grow stronger. If you are right you have taken another step towards a fulfilling
life.' " from The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay (who incidentally began his career as an author a LOT later in life) :-) Well done you.

Richard Goode said...

Beautifully expressed. That is exactly what the humanities give us. As a lecturer in the humanities and who is often faced with students who just want to know the 'facts' that they need to pass the exams, this is like music to me. Thank you so much for so eloquently capturing the heart of what it is all about and, most of all, that you get it.

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Digging deep into a poem is a thrilling experience...revisiting literature read in youthful haste is also a great pleasure indeed along with discovering new treasures...we are blessed and whatever you turn your hand and heart too it will always be the richer for your curiosity,

Sarah -x-

sweet harvest moon said...

Beautiful and great post!

Unknown said...

What a joy to stumble upon your blog this morning. Such beautiful, thoughtful and humble words & images. How refreshing.

Gigi said...

How very well said - eloquent.