At 53 years of age I finally earned a Masters degree. This milestone may mean more to me than many of the millions before me who made the grade and received their sheepskin in higher education.
As an aside . . . In the backdrop is a story I want to write about. Enjoying the Adventure is a journal primarily for my family (at the present, it's possible others find it more interesting than they do). Sometimes it is deeply spiritual. Sometimes it is painfully candid. Sometimes it is hard to follow. Sometimes it connects with a reader. Sometimes it sounds angry. Sometimes it is just the unimpressive musings of a sojourner. But every life is worth writing about . . . so I record my Adventure. . . warts and all!
During the month of May and the first few days of June, Sandy and I had the privilege of lecturing at two different universities in China. Our impetus for traveling halfway around the world is to continue building a network of relationships with Chinese business leaders and educators. If our dreams come true, a joint venture between East and West is in the offing. I am hopeful that my last rodeo will be in the Big Country. Also, my work in China was part of a 250 hour practicum required to finish my degree. We arrived back in the United States on June 3, and my class graduated on June 5. I was unable to walk with them. Darn!
Thankfully, the registrar went above and beyond her call of duty. Posthaste, she got my diploma to us before we left for Maine to celebrate Independence Day as a family. Unknown to me, Sandy and the kids had a celebration in mind--a graduation party! The following is what I will put in writing . . . !
Sandy rushed around before leaving Massachusetts and got my diploma framed for a grand display--come party time. That alone would have been great, but my family conspired to go over the top . . . just a little! Picture, if you can, six adults, in good spirits, with cans of silly string, and no inhibitions. Sandy was the quick draw gunslinger, and in seconds, my white hair became twisted strands of bright pink. Meagan and Justin and Erika and Josh shot me up the nose. Though outnumbered, and like a desperate man fighting blood thirsty savages, I turned the attack against Sandy and Justin and Erika and Josh and Meagan. I fought bravely and died quickly! However, just before I was blinded by a thick cobweb of rainbow colors, I succeeded in turning Sandy's raven hair into multicolored braids (she looked quite exotic). As all our low-browed predecessors have learned the hard way--women stick together. Meagan wheeled, and with both cans firing, gave me a mouthful of silly string spaghetti! In less time than it would take Jack Bauer to disarm a bad guy, the interior of the cabin was striped and draped in thin, curling neon threads! Guns were empty, the air was filled with laughter!
Time for cake!
Here comes the part of the story that may sound a little corny to you, but means everything to me. After we picked lines of silly string off the cake, Meg began to serve it to everyone. Standing behind me, Sandy touched me on the shoulder. When I turned, she was holding my mortar board cap, black robe, and Masters hood. I would march after all. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry or shout!
From Columbus, GA to Taunton, MA, literally through wind, rain, and more than 1,400 miles of hard riding, Josh stopped at our home in Massachusetts, picked up a special package, strapped it to the back of his bike, and set out on the final leg of his cross-country trek to Greenbush, Maine. Like the true Jedi he is, he secretly got the package to his co-conspirator--his mother. Safe and sound and dry.
Yes, over my hiking boots, jeans, and denim shirt, I donned the complete regalia --mortar board cap and tassel, black robe, and Masters hood. For that moment in time, I captured a glimpse of myself as a much younger man. With my family surrounding me, the Penobscot River behind me--my favorite spot on earth--my thin place--the late bloomer graduate proudly, and a little awkwardly, held a framed sheepskin--a Masters degree.