“True education is not pumped or crammed in from outward sources, but aids in bringing to the surface the infinite hoard of wisdom within.” -Paramahansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi
When one begins to tell a story, where does one begin? At the beginning, but which place was that, exactly? Did it begin when I completed my degree, did it begin with my wife and I deciding to leave her lucrative international teaching position and return the U.S.? Did it start with the interview?
I am uncertain, but this blog is about becoming. This writing represents a worldly education by forced upheaval, by adapt and overcome mentality, by the pure resiliency of the human spirit.
I sat up straight. Right leg crossed over the left, at the knee, properly propped up as an intellectual eager to contribute. Dr. Kelly Rice was conducting the meeting. Her posture mimicked my own and her athletic appearance was prominent.
Well-developed deltoids signal that she models a physically fit lifestyle. I ascertained this about her as a she continued to nod her head in approval while I pled my case as to why I would be a great fit for the job.
Her coffee cup was a majestic rendering of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Though it was a temporary holder for some hot liquid, she held it sipping and nodding, sipping and nodding. She was nodding not only to what I was saying, she was conferring with her colleague Dr. Kyle Pfaffenbach, pronounced with a silent “P.” He is a young PhD educated from THE USC.
His office, much like his perfectly coiffed hair and manicured appearance, was a model of esthetic creativity. His walls were covered in perfectly placed photos of his family, each picture posted symmetrically with such meticulous detail that he could have a million followers on Pinterest.
My wife, Michelle had prepped me for the interview. I was sure to use the phrases, “educational rigor,” “building synergy,” and “community involvement.” It was a shot in the dark and I felt that this interview was conducted only to placate me as my wife was for sure nailing her interview for a professorship, upstairs in the education department.
She was eminently qualified with 18 years’ experience teaching in a classroom, coaching and mentoring children to become the best version of themselves, winning multiple awards for her efforts which span several continents.
I had none of this. I was just a dude that spent the last seven years as a “house frau”, conducting my studies online from our house in Germany. The only “rigor” I knew was yoga, cooking, and vacuuming the vast span of the hardwood floors in our Bavarian home.
While Michelle was likely enlightening her future dean with her particular brand of wisdom, “meeting the students where they’re at,” I was more qualified to inform this team of bright PhD’s of where the “dust bunnies” are likely to hide (they bred and multiply behind the electronic equipment where it’s warm).
“As you might already know this position is hard to fill, since it is a fixed term position as a sabbatical replacement.” I eagerly nodded my head toward the PhD from USC with the silent excitement that I was closer to becoming a University employee.
“I’m good with going forward with this if you are, Kelly.” Dr. Rice again nods silent approval. While she gently gripped that beautiful coffee cup, I pondered the pain of Van Gogh, thinking to myself that I would cut my ear off for a job at this point.
After taking a final “Starry sip” Dr. Rice turned to me and asked, “Can you handle learning the material?” I emphatically nodded, assuring her that I was a “race car in the red,” ready to do my work and teach.
I got the job. I shook the hands of the two professors and gleefully asked (as a bit of an afterthought), what I would be teaching, primarily? Dr. Rice smiled as she said, “biomechanics.” I silently thought, “Cool! What’s that?” After gratefully bowing to the professors I exited the conference exalted.
I met with Michelle. She too was offered a position as a fixed term professor. We embraced knowing that we accomplished a rare feat, a husband and wife team teaching at the same University, after taking a massive leap of faith and moving across an ocean with no jobs.
Michelle then asked me what I would be teaching. I proudly told her, “biomechanics!” Her face changed from excited to concerned. “Doesn’t biomechanics require a TON of complex math?”
The bliss of my ignorance transformed itself to dread and despair upon reading the results of my Google search of the term “biomechanics.”
And so it began…