|Up close. Tiny yet exquisite, Draba cuneifolia.|
But the problem-solving skills, the grit, the ability to learn— those I use everyday. Even out here, while hiking on my days off.
|Trying to figure out how to get way over there from way up here.|
I suppose people don’t understand what it’s about. Or they assume getting a PhD is just like going to college for a few more years.
Instead, a PhD is about doing something entirely new. You problem-solve like your life depends on it and tackle projects that take years to complete. Because it’s never been done before. You learn to teach yourself all the skills and any topic you need to know (often from many disciplines). It takes perseverance and resourcefulness. You learn to keep going despite failure after failure. Step by step, you become the world expert on something incredibly small and minuscule, but still you know more about it than anyone else.
Then you assemble the five smartest people you know to ask you any question about ANYTHING. They can literally ask you what a black hole is or who invented the microscope. Even if your topic is ecology. Which I guess is sort of like being a Park Ranger giving an interpretive talk. Except that your thesis committee can fail you.
|Not a black hole. Though it looks dark inside.|
And even when I hike. I think the reason I keep coming back to this place is because I want to know it inside out. As if I'm working towards becomming the world-expert. At least trying to get to the bottom of things.
|Can't get to the bottom of it here. Must backtrack.|
|97% of good hikes involve crossing over barbed wire fences.|
|Ah ha! I think I've found the swimming pool sized waterhole.|
|Maybe you are bored with of all these photos that look the same month after month. But I don't tire of them because I can tell that they are slightly different.|
|Something new here.|
|This is called "West Boundary Arch." I decided to try to find this arch because I thought the name had a nice ring to it.|
I asked them about what “stupid” means and if there are different types of intelligence for different situiations. And they got really into it so I also snuck in some ecological concepts that normally you don’t learn until college but I figured out ways to explain then without technical language. And I could tell from their questions that they were putting really complex ideas together.
Then my students made dodo masks out of cardboard and stapled feathers to them. One kid's mask had blood-red marks on it that he said were scars from the bird getting attacked but then escaping. And then they all ran outside with their masks on and waddled around in a little flock, wildly, joyfully.
“Not using my degree- ha!,” I think, “What nonsense!”
|Leaping along the rim.|