A young man wants to get a graduate degree in filmmaking. He plans to be a writer of screenplays for full length feature films for the entertainment industry. He hunts for film schools and is accepted to one. Then his girlfriend, in the last months of medical school, gets her dream assignment for her residency. But it’s in DC, states away from the man’s school of choice. They decide to get married rather than hassle with a long distance romance. The man hunts for a film program in DC. They launch their adventure and marriage with faith, love and rich lessons in compromise.
The man finds a university which he describes as “the best film program in DC to go to when you wife just accepted a job there.” Not only is he accepted, he’s given a teaching assistantship and a scholarship. Things look rosy. The couple learns through give and take how to juggle their busy schedules and differing talents. They get a dog, make new friends, hold callings in their ward. They make it work.
When the man – let’s call him Peter – signs up for this graduate program, he knows that it isn’t perfectly suited to the skills he wants to enhance. Their program is all about documentary work, “media that matters”, substantive journalism. They are about “changing the world,” not earning Oscars. Peter is selective, even tactical in choosing classes suited to his ambitions. He scours the bulletin boards – both physical and online – for extra jobs or internships that might offer him training in appealing ways that the university’s normal curriculum doesn’t offer. He gets those jobs and internships. He develops relationships with wise and connected professors. That serves him well, too. He and his wife juggle their hours, the dog, the meal prep.
Peter takes advantage of everything the university had to offer that sync with his interests and builds a promising platform. Peter accomplishes great feats in areas they normally don’t boost. When graduation comes along, Peter’s career planning claims the attention of the administrators. The University heaps honors on him.
Supported by the resources of the university, it is in fact Peter’s vision that drives his success, his instincts and clarity about knowing where he wants to get and how to get there using the provisions available to him. He deserves every banner waved, every second of his time on the Jumbo-tron sharing his accumulated wisdom as commencement speaker.
Whether this is just championing by a proud mother, or a parable set in a modern day, I’ll let you decide. The situation suggests to me a metaphor for any course we’re on. Employment, parenthood, church? Certainly no metaphor matches point for point, but I find useful lessons here. Perhaps for some of us the branding of the “university” we attend doesn’t necessarily mesh with our personal agendas.
Do we have a stewardship to detect our own inner driving forces?
Once we receive and recognize them, how do we work towards accomplishing them in whatever environment we find ourselves?
If we don’t fit the branding, does that make us misfits?
If so, what actions does that mandate?
Does that mean we bail? Alter our dreams to fit the branding?
Do you see other applications?