Crossposted at Moon Books Blogs at: http://moon-books.net/blogs/moonbooks/?p=4393-2
With the coming change from one calendar year to another, there is always the desire to look back and place judgment on what was and was not accomplished in one’s last twelve months. There are all kinds of desires, goals, and needs that people try to attach to their lives – mostly specific, some more generic. We want to lose weight, stop cussing, make more money, get a better job, find true and everlasting love, eat healthier, do better rituals, cast stronger spells, become more of an activist for whatever cause we deem worthy (whatever that means), and the lists can go on and on. But we tend to find many of these “promises” to be shallow. Most of them are forgotten in a few weeks, as we settle back into routines that we have carefully cultivated over many years. And maybe that is the primary key to all of this – the planting, care-taking, and growth of routines that emphasize and strengthen the goals that we want to have. This was a thought process I started a few months back, around the time of Samhain – the time frame that I consider the true turning of the wheel. Over the last (approximately) sixty days, I have been tweaking various aspects of my life, trying to tune into where I wanted to go, and how I wanted to get there.
It is no secret that I work in a data-related field at a small two-year college in north Texas. One of my desires was to integrate lower-cost tools into my daily work practice, in order to provide more data-driven results to upper management, which would help them make better decisions that could potentially derive more successful results for the college as a whole. My choice of tool to learn has been R, a statistical processing application that can be utilized for a lot of different things. My experience with it, thus far, has been minimal. Mostly because I had very little idea of how to apply it to my everyday work. I needed to get a deeper understanding of what R was, what it was capable of, and then attempting to apply those techniques to my everyday work.
Another facet of my daily life that I have been working is my Ovate Grade work within the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. I am only a few lessons in and already frustrated by the lack of progress I have made. My original intention was to move along using a calendar-based technique – where each lesson took (x) number of days. I found that I had severely underestimated the time frame necessary to work with what I had. And I broke a vow to myself not to restart the process of these lessons, and have reverted back to my first lessons. However, before I started, I decided to take the opportunity to try a different approach. I decided to go deeper into what I was learning and forget about the “how long” approach. However long it takes, is however long it will take.
In these sixty days, I started looking at my own concept of goals for both of these centers of knowledge. With the R material, I realized fairly quickly that I had unrealistic expectations of how I was and how quickly I could assimilate new knowledge. I needed to scrap everything I knew (and loathed) about statistical methodologies, strip it all down to the basic essentials, and rebuild from that point. As I am a very visual learner, I started to flowchart how I would get to where I needed to be to use R in a very basic sense. There are no waypoints in terms of time. It only took a few days to realize what a trap that was, and how that would only set me up for failure. I have a goal of learning R and putting it to practical use within my daily job routines. Whether that happens in March of 2018, 2019 or 2025 makes no difference to me. It is putting it to practical use within my job skillsets that matters to me. This is not a race against the clock, rather this is a desire to learn, grow, and mature a new technology and process into my world.
Once I managed to realize this for R, putting this into a format for my approach to my Ovate studies was fairly easy. The material is different, the application is different, but the overall sentiment is essentially the same. I wish to learn the Ovate material to improve my knowledge as a Druid utilizing the framework of OBOD. Through that knowledge, I will also improve my connection to the environment around me, as well as the environments beyond this physical one. My desire is to be the best Druid and Priest that I can be. There is no timeframe for this, merely a need to keep my desire to learn, grow and mature on this Path fed as it should be.
With those formats in place, written out in my two journals that will serve as the records of what I learn and how I grow, I have spent the past few days resting from that effort and thinking about my plans – as well as what resources I will need to help me along the way. I would be foolish to think I could undertake this completely alone. There places on the internet that I can go to seek help with any R-related issue I encounter. In my Druidry studies, there are a handful of OBOD members that I could go to ask questions of. In both cases, I do not expect either of them to provide the answers to me for any of those questions. Furthermore, I have plenty of books from authors whose opinions I respect highly (many of whom have published with Moon Books), as well as magazines such as “Pagan Dawn”, where I can read articles on a variety of subjects that can also be helpful to my approach. With all of that said, let’s face a small reality, shall we?
No one is ever going to hand you anything in life. You want something, you are going to have to do the work associated with it. I want to learn R and use it heavily in my workplace. I will have to learn the programming language that governs it, as well as how to apply the R application to solve problems in the work environment, as well as understanding what problems it will be useful in solving, and which it would be inappropriate for. There will be no R Angel or Demon on my shoulder telling me what to try and not try. I am going to have to figure all that out on my own, through trial and error. By doing, observing, and failing.
The same can be said for any aspect of my Spirituality. How I approach Paganism, Polytheism and Druidry are my own. Even if I do not choose to approach any of that. The decision of how, where, why, and when is my own. And with Crow in my life, I have to add one more thought to this: should you feel the calling of a God or Goddess pulling you towards Their service, cajoling you towards Priesthood….remember this: if you accept, you are accepting the sole responsibility of the workload that will be expected of you. being called to be a Pagan or a Polytheist and be reverent of the Gods is one thing. Being pulled into the service of a God or Goddess is another matter altogether.
This is merely my opinion, but if all you are into something – a degree, a certificate program, a Spiritual training regimen – is for the piece of paper that acknowledges your effort towards completing assignments, tasks, classes, etc., then you are approaching it with the wrong frame of mind. Don’t get me wrong, I have two Masters degrees and a Bachelors degree, along with two (and in February, the third and final certification) professional certifications from a state-acclaimed organization for Institutional Researchers. The accolade you receive is a wonderful thing, and something to be celebrated, but it should never shadow the knowledge you gained from the classes, assignments, and training you received. For instance, the OBOD training program I am currently in has three levels – Bard, Ovate and Druid. I finished Bard. I am working on Ovate. I have a desire to finish Ovate, and work and finish my Druid level as well. But I also have to take into account that I may find that I have no need to finish Ovate and/or Druid. That wherever I manage to reach may be enough knowledge for me to be who I am. I certainly hope that’s not the case, but it is a possibility. And if it becomes a reality, I will be fine and content with that moment. But that’s not where I am at this moment. My goal is to finish. When? I am not completely sure, but I am willing to work towards it and look forward to figuring that as I move forward.
The processes I have outlined are what works for me. I derived a lot of this from another concept called “diving deeply,” where an individual immerses themselves in the learning process for a technique, tool or skillset. My desire here is to make learning and using R as a part of my daily workflow, so that I can determine what works well for what I do on a daily basis, as well as what does not. My Ovate grade progression will also become a part of my daily routine, utilizing free-time at work, as well as time before and after my daily work. I am not going to just do the lessons and move on, I am going to take a few steps further – finding ways to implement some of the lessons as daily routines within my life. Some will find permanence in my life, some won’t. But I won’t know which is which until I try.
If you decide to give some aspect of this a try and it works for you….please teach it to others. For some, it may not work or be useful. Everybody learns differently. I am an “expert” on what does and does not work for me, and I hope that this methodology will prove useful for me so that I can add it to my own toolbox. But the only way you will find out if it does or does not work for you – is to try it. And whether it does or does not work for you, I hope that it does enlighten you in one way or another.