Defeating Grendel 

Finally, I have finished the paper that has dogged me for too long, and I can't tell you how happy I am that it is behind me. I am sure that everyone who knows me will be more than glad that I have gotten this ugly thing off of my back, not least of all my professors. After ten months of working with the thing off and on, I can now say that I no longer have to think about the argument, the book which was the topic, or all of the research I did for it ever again!

Of course, this is not to say that the paper is the best thing I have ever written. Far from it, this paper feels more like Frakenstein than anything else, mostly because it is patched together from several abortive attempts. The Frakenstein analogy is oddly appropriate because I have been thinking of monsters for the last couple of weeks.

One of the methods that was suggested to me recently to help get myself motivated to complete all of this needed work was to imagine myself in mythological or heroic terms. Before anyone mentions how silly this sounds (or worse, laughs), please be aware that I am already aware of the silliness inherent in such an imaginative exercise. But, then I got to thinking about it. What was the purpose of the Odyssey, Beowulf, the Illiad, or all of the various tribal stories told in our world's past if not to model to others how to act or get things done? They were their respective societies model's of courage, heroism, and virtue. All of which were things to be emulated.

Primarily, I am thinking of Beowulf. He was a warrior who left his homeland to sail across the sea and fight a horrible monster barehanded. He eventually had to descend under the sea to completely vanquish the terror that plagued the HalfDanes. And even far below the water, struggling with the monster, his initial attempts did not work. The sword bounced harmlessly off the monster's hide. Yet, with some ingenuity, and a nearby sword that only he can wield, he finally defeated it.

It is not too hard to analogize this plot to everyday problem solving. You need courage to face your demons, and sometimes it may feel like you are drowning under an entire ocean when you are struggling fiercest against your troubles. And even as you attack them with what you have in hand, it may not seem like you are getting anywhere. You have to, somehow, reach deep within yourself and draw on something new to make any progress. You have to be persistent, clever, and hard-working. However, if you can do it, the rewards are worth it.

My fight against this round of academic papers are not over yet, but I think I have at least fought off my own Grendel. There are many more monsters ahead, but I now know that I can do it. All I need to remember is how to muster the courage to keep fighting even when I most want to give up. These next few weeks are the most crucial for me and, perhaps, also the most difficult; they are my place under the ocean. But I am determined not to drown.

23 July 2004
Comments: Post a Comment