Goals set in motion (continued)
When I think of my life’s goals and resolutions—in light of two summers spent in almost continuous doctoral degree courses, topped off by comprehensive exams—I think of scrambling over scree.
My professional growth has not been a straightforward five- to ten-year plan plotted as a smooth tangent on life’s graph. Rather, it resembles the crab-like, slow, sideways climb up a mountain slope filled with scree—two steps forward and one sliding back.
While my husband and I lived in the United Kingdom we were introduced to “fell-walking” by a Yorkshireman. His enthusiasm was so contagious that we purchased the best leather hiking boots we could afford on a graduate student budget. We “dubbinned” our boots to waterproof them, broke them in walking back and forth to market, and believed we were ready for fell-walking.
In typical British understatement, fell-walking is not a gentle stroll in the countryside. Our friend’s favorite fell-walking spots included the limestone country at the western end of the Dales. Apparently, as limestone weathers, it disintegrates into mountainsides of scree. As one fell-walks such geographical wonders as Helvelen, England’s highest hill, one is usually confronted at some point by long stretches of scree. To get to the top, a fell-walker has to scramble over scree. As she scrambles and slides, with lungs burning, heart pounding, and calf muscles quivering, she wonders just why am I doing this insane exercise? However, when the fell-walker reaches the top, collapses on the nearest boulder, and unpacks the tea thermos and sandwiches, she realizes the view is truly worth the climb. Then she turns around, slides back down to earth, over the scree, and back to reality. But, the memory of what she has experienced hopefully lingers and makes her a better person.
And that’s how I see my goal of earning a doctoral degree: I’m huffing and puffing, scrambling and sliding gracelessly, but getting closer to the top. When I get to the top, I’ll celebrate with a mug of tea or two—and then come back down! In the meantime, I’ve decided my real goal in life—for when I finish the degree or retire, whichever comes first—is to dust off my hiking boots, dubbin them up, and join the Susquehanna Rovers Volksmarch Club.
—Wanda Thuma McDermond ’75 is an assistant professor of nursing.
| 3 | 4