Today I marked a milestone in my academic life. I completed the course requirements for my Master of Arts in Military History. For me this means, at least in this program I am entering the 9th inning. I have two other graduate degrees as well as a professional hospital residency and I am a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. I’ve been doing graduate level work for years. I was a history major as an undergraduate and did a year of masters level work before I was commissioned in the Army in 1983. Being tired and broke, I elected not to take an educational delay to complete the masters in history at that time.
However, I never stopped loving history. In seminary it was Church History that led me to an Anglo-Catholic Sacramental World view. While this was reinforced by subjects such as Systematic Theology, Philosophy and Ethics, it was history that did me in. Thus I have continued to study always hoping that I would get the chance to pick up the MA in History, despite my other degrees and studies. I think that history, if you do it right and don’t subscribe to myth and believe everything you read is good preparation for many other academic and even complementary to scientific fields. So I am very happy today. I hope my run continues, I have not had less than an A in any class in the program and would hate to have a B. That to me would be mortifying. Okay, I’m competitive. I don’t like to lose and I hate being wrong. I do patently do both, but I don’t like it. I was thrown out of a Church softball game back in college and I have been known to say my peace sometimes in a very un-peaceful manner. I really get upset when I am the one who makes the mistake. However, this too is part of life. Note my adventures in trying to put my uniform together for the Dining Out in yesterday’s post- The Dining Out. That was a comedy of errors, thankfully despite that I kept my head and got out with the save.
Anyway, the 9th inning is something that we all have to do in life. For me at this time the 9th inning is the completion of my degree. With the completion of this last class, I am out of the 8th and I’m going into the 9th. I kind of cruised through my last class as it was an entry level course that I had put off to the end. I did not put the same effort into it as I had other courses simply because I felt that I needed to take it a bit easier with all the things going on in my life. However, I still have to do my Comprehensive Exams to be awarded the degree. I need to complete the 9th. This will be harder than the 8th, though I do not expect to have any problems with it.
There are parallels in almost every area of life, even in faith. How we do life is important, faith matters but practice even more. You can see the same in sports, politics, academics, and daily life and work. I find that a lot of people are bad a closing things out. I have known a lot of people who are smarter, more talented and better looking than me who don’t finish well. The 9th inning is all about finishing well. Like baseball you don’t get out of the 9th unless you get the three required outs. There is nothing more frustrating than having the lead in the 9th and losing.
My life now is about being the old catcher or coach who helps the young guys learn this lesson early. It is not enough to have a great 8 innings, you have to get through the 9th. As I work with young people, be they clergy, seminarians, interns and resident physicians, young enlisted sailors and Marines, it is my desire to help them finish well. I want them to succeed and will do whatever I can to help them in the process.
Have a great day and finish well. Peace, Steve+
Note: The Tides won again today 7-0 over the Bulls. They have a day off tomorrow and host the Gwinett Braves for two games on Tuesday and Wednesday…those games I will go to. The Tides are back in first place at 11-5. Hopefully the O’s will not come and take all the good guys too soon. We are having a lot more fun here in Norfolk than any time since 2004 when we took the International League Southern Division and got in the playoffs.