I am constantly reminded that Life is all about change. One of my favorite quotes comes from the TV show “The Highlander”:
“Life is about change, about learning to accept who you are: good or bad.”
–Duncan McLeod to Methos
And it is so very true. This morning, I find myself in a place I have not been in five years: not teaching a college class. Honestly, its quite a frustrating moment to realize that. I have gone from being a professor to being an Assessment Analyst. Gone from teaching students to notice patterns in business data and practices, to utilizing that same instinct of pattern searching to assist the same college I taught for. And its a transition. One I am slightly uncomfortable making, and absolutely terrified at the prospect of starting.
To say that this has been on mind for quite some time is an understatement. I have heard people talk about those moments, when you are trying to get to sleep, and you find yourself staring at the ceiling in that darkness with your thoughts racing a mile a minute. That exact scenario has played out for me quite a few nights now. One in particular has now stood out in my memory – my dream from Saturday night.
I have an Inner Grove that I consistently utilize in my daily meditations. Its a small meadow in the middle of a heavily forested area. In the center of the meadow are four things – three trees in a single line (Birch, Oak in the middle, another Birch on the other side), and a large rock about the size of a Volkswagon classic Beetle. I usually find myself sitting on this rock, lounging in the warmth of the sun during the day or basking in the ghostly shine from the Moon at night. At this particular moment, the sun is out, and my mind is wandering to my thoughts of terror concerning my upcoming job change. In the middle of my thoughts, a Crow hops down from the branches of the Oak. Its not uncommon for Crows to be a part of my dreams, so I am not startled at all. I nod quietly at the Crow, and start back towards my thoughts. And then the Crow speaks. This is extremely uncommon for me, the Crows never speak in my dreams. They caw at me, and occasionally bring me items, like buttons and bits of colored yarn. But this Crow clearly startles me with what is said: “Everything you have done, leads to this moment.” And he flew away. When I awoke from this dream, I spent several minutes jotting down things – particularly what was said, so I would not lose what was said. Dreams have a funny way of dissipating from my memory very quickly after I awake, so I have taken to keeping a Dream Journal in the drawer of my nightstand.
During the interview, I was to give a presentation., which I did. At the very end of the presentation, I made a statement regarding my philosophy concerning data analysis.
If you look at the data and see only the numbers, you only get half of the story. Underneath all the numbers are countless stories. Stories of people, stories of lives, stories of dreams. In order to make sense of the data that is presented through instruments such as surveys and questionnaires, you have to dip into those stories. You need to understand the people from which the data is collected from. You don’t need to be an expert on them, nor do you need to interpret their dreams for their careers. You do need to understand where they are coming from – to find the relationship that starts the pattern that is recognized in the data.
For me, this is pure Druidry applied to a discipline that is as cold and unfeeling as data analysis. And from what I am told, this was the statement that cinched the interview for me.
And there’s a lot to think about — but let me take a step back to the Crow’s message in my dream. I have done a lot of stuff over my career. I have worked in nearly every position one can work in Information Technology. I have taught students about Information Technology and how it applies to their lives. I have three degrees – a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with an emphasis on Database Management, a Master’s degree in Information Systems Management, and a Master’s in Business Administration. Each of those areas will provide me with immeasurable experience and first-hand knowledge of the discipline I am about to undertake. I had just never thought of the jumbled steps in my career and collegiate studies to be inter-locking towards a particular job. Until the Crow said something.
I know that each step is going to be difficult to take in this position – particularly as I mourn the loss of my previous position of being a professor. I loved being in the classroom, I enjoyed talking with the students, making the material come alive and sing its song to each student in a unique voice that they could hear. But now, I get the chance to let a new song be sung, the song of the data that the school gathers from the students. I have the opportunity to sing my philosophy in an environment that should…nay…an environment that MUST look beneath the numbers and sing the story of the students, the faculty, and the administration folks. A collegiate environment is one geared towards study – the teaching of the students and the learning facilitated for the students. But put in those simple terms, its not alive. There are countless stories of students who place parts of their lives on hold, so that they can earn collegiate credits towards a diploma. A diploma that should propel them onwards into environments where their knowledge will walk hand-in-hand with their hard-work ethic to help them achieve their dreams. There are even more stories of faculty members who have stepped away from much higher paying jobs in their field of study, so that they can help facilitate the future through the students. And yet, these faculty members will most likely never see the achievement of many of those dreams – and may never even be aware of the dreams that their students harbor. How to get these stories in front of the data? I certainly have no idea how to make that happen – at least not yet.
Walk softly through the desert sands
Careful where you tread
Underfoot are the visions lost
Sleeping not yet dead
Hang on – Winds starting to howl
Hang on – The beast is on the prowl
Hang on – Can you hear the strange cry
Winds of change are blowing by
–Jefferson Starship, “Winds of Change”