“Why are you getting your doctorate degree” he asked. He sounded genuinely curious, not at all judgmental or accusing like some. Some assumed I had some big ambition. Others seemed to think it was about proving my worth. Some clearly felt it was a waste of time and money. Most though just didn’t care.
“Because I can” I laughed. I heard him chuckle into the phone, across the distance. I couldn’t remember ever hearing him laugh. My father-in-law was the strong silent type, and, in more than twenty years of our interaction, we had probably only shared three actual conversations.
“There’s a mountain so you climb it, right?” He said, hinting at my recent hiking trip to southern Utah.
“Exactly!” He made it sound so simple, so natural, the most human thing possible. This man, a farmer, a dad, a leader in his community got it.
We are built to explore, to discover, to conquer–we enter this world with a bias toward action. Children spend every new day trying new things, finding out just what they can do. Why do so many of us let that go?
Admittedly there are many things I’ve wanted to do that I have been too scared or felt too busy or too responsible to try. Each challenge, each trial in my life though reminds me that life is short but life is good. And I can be amazing. We all can.
I keep a reminder in my office in a little unassuming brown frame, almost overshadowed by all the colors of my office, but it’s not there for decorative purposes. It’s there for me.
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”*
Hanging up the phone I return to my writing, I re-read my last section, and recommit to my studies. My research matters. And I will do complete it and share it with the world because I can.
What can you do? Will you do it?