>De Mercatorum et Scolasticos

Posted: 09/12/2008 in Uncategorized

>Everyone has some kind of tension in their life. In fact, we’re usually pulled several different directions at the same time. Lately, I have been in tension about my chosen career path, and my time in Grad school. Am I to be a merchant or a scholar?

I still love academic life, for the most part. The thoughtful approach to things does not come difficultly for me. I enjoy what I read. I enjoy it when I write. The hard work that goes into writing a good paper is always rewarding. There is still a lot that I find fascinating. There is still a lot that I want to read. I still hope to become a published author someday. This has been part of who I am and what I do for years now. I don’t regret that little ring on my desk that has “BA Theology” written on it for one second.

But I also really appreciate the world of businesses, selling, and finance. I am an admitted capitalist. This has been stewing for years, but was finally triggered by Cutco this summer. Cutco, the direct selling of knives, is the kind of job I wish I found when I was nineteen. There is something about a job that quickly, and objectively, rewards good work. There is something great about working a job that teaches you something, indeed many things that are valuable for other jobs and life in general.

In both of these worlds I am surrounded by people I admire and am motivated by. Cutco is full of some of the hardest working people I have ever met. Academia is filled with the wisest and most ascetic. Both groups are driven to be the best at what they do and pull as many people as they can along with them. Both groups remind me of who I should be.

Another part of the tension is my future employability and my financial flourishing. When I am some old man, I do not want to be burden to the next generation. I want to be the benefactor to the next generation. I know that a big part of that depends on how much money I make and save over the next five to ten years. Professors do not make much. The market is flooded with people looking for the humble goal of “adjunct.” My first job will 40k/year if I’m lucky. I reflect on this and remember that I turned down a 30k/year + commission job to come to this school. Some people may think that this is greed, but I have come to believe that being successful financial involves the eschewing of greed.

Of course, I doubt any course I may go on. After all, am I just doing grad school (or considering a capitalist career) for anything other than yet another mark of my own prestige and accomplishment? Even when I think that I got over the pride issue and say I am willing to give it all up, am I still hoping for another ring on the finger or feather in the cap?

Finally, there is the sense of God in all of this. I am not a burning bush kind of guy. I would never expect God to send Gabriel or write instructions on a bedroom wall for me. I don’t think God usually does that, and I am perfectly fine with it. After all, I don’t expect to know that God worked in something until hindsight. That has at least been the pattern in my life so far. This doesn’t mean I have no sense of God’s activity. There are, signs that others have pointed out for me. After all, I did get into a good program without even having majored in the subject. Maybe that means I am supposed to be here.

I’ll end this blog with a short quote from St. Ignatius’ exercises. It seems appropriate in somehow:

Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls…we ought to desire and choose only that which is more conducive to the end for which we are created.

Thanks for reading.

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Comments
  1. >Don’t worry…you’re filipino! When you’re old, your children have to take care of you! :)I feel for you here though, seriously. At times I feel I could study forever. Read every book on the subjects I enjoy. And then, as much as I HATE to admit it, there is the part of me that enjoys work. The selling, the working hard, the payoff. And, sadly, I am such a consumer. I am drawn to the ascetic life of a missionary and scholar, and yet I just want to buy so many things. It’s a fine line to walk, an odd road to figure out…I am sure you will figure out your path. That is what grad school is for, I guess. Though they said the same of college.If you are old and poor, you can stay with me and my many cats.

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