Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Let's try again

You want to have a strong finishing kick when running a race. You want to be able to run hard that last lap, even when exhausted, so as to make a good showing in your event.[1] But then what?

A wise man thinks past the fulfillment of a dream.[2] Because, face it, when you finish a big and demanding project, the normal reaction is depression. A gentleman who spent years being captured by German soldiers, and breaking out of their prison camps, reported a sense that all of life was flat when he finally made it home to England. People who work in high-stress occupations, such as air traffic controllers and freight dispatchers, often suffer heart attacks when they take a vacation.

In 1992, I wound up my MS in Communication Studies with a dissertation that is still cited on the first page of a popular google search. A few weeks later, I took a two-week vacation in Ukraine, to observe a society in transition. After several nights of staying up 'til 3:00 am to pack and prepare, I fell asleep on the plane leaving New York around 10:00 pm -- and awoke to full daylight streaming in through the window shortly after midnight. Ukraine is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, but I went through the vacation in a state of excitement that merely postponed the bills. It took more than six months to get back up to speed.

So now, 18+ years later, I've finished my PhD. The last lap took everything I could put into it. My dissertation defense was structured in terms of the patterns of persuasion I'd found in Nutuk and a comparable work, and greatly amused my committee: it sounded like a job interview![3] During that last stretch, I went for 10 weeks without riding my bicycle, gained weight, and kept external commitments to a minimum. As my friends who follow this blog may have noted, I also put less energy into a real source of delight, my Turkish studies. Well, let's look into the Great Book again. Here is a short verse from Proverbs 1:
Pro 1:17 Kuşların gözü önünde ağ sermek boşunadır.
Which being interpreted, reads:
  • Kuşların -- Of the bird
  • gözü -- the eyes
  • önünde -- in front of
  • -- the net
  • sermek -- is spread, draped, lay, spread out
  • boşunadır -- to no purpose.
Evil doers rely on secrecy. Yet, they have less of that than they think. Yes, Solomon warns his sons, it's easy and natural of single young men to clump together in criminal gangs. But they are not as smart as they think they are.

As İsa said in the New Testament, no one gets away with anything. Secrets tend to get revealed -- and we should assume that our furtive, sneaky, "secret" sins will not stay concealed. So, we should be predisposed to face, and repent of, wrongdoing. Nixon was forced out of office for trying to cover up a crime, not for the crime itself.


[1] I was competing the the two mile run one evening in high school. It was winter, indoor track season, and the track was 220 yards long. That's 1/8 mile, sixteen laps. The umpire lost count, and as I hurled myself at the finish line, he held up a finger -- one more lap.

[2] I had a nightmare in 1995 or 1996. I dreamed that I was joyfully putting the final touches on a dissertation that would bless and encourage thousands of people around the world. This dream was a nightmare because, in that terrible lucidity one sometimes experiences while dreaming, I knew that I was dreaming of, rather than doing, the desired project!

[3] Here is a LINK to the defense, if you are curious.

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