Road(s) I’ve Taken

I started a business this week. You can “like” the facebook page here if you wish. Actually, I would really like that. But don’t worry, this blog is not going to turn into a sales pitch for it. I hope that’s the most market-y I ever sound on here. But since it just launched and I’m  excited about it, I wanted to share it with all of you and hope you’ll share it too!

I’m also mentioning this news because its origins fit with the theme of this blog. Bear with me, it takes a bit of background to get there. So I have an English MA and a Bachelor of Humanities. I had never planned on starting my own business. Without telling you the whole story of how it came to be, I’m just going to tell you the important part.

The road to this entrepreneurial decision was one of those “as way leads onto way” kind of journeys Robert Frost talks about in “The Road Not Taken.”

And as Kid President famously says, the way isn’t always that easy. “Rocks! Thorns! Glass! Not cool, Robert Frost!”

What’s also not cool is a road that doesn’t go straight. Meandering, scenic roads are pretty to drive on but as a metaphor for life, they’re not that desirable. I wanted/expected the road after finishing my liberal arts education to be straight, or at least straighter. To lead progressively from one thing to the next. Linear career motion.

But it hasn’t been. I’m sure people warned me about this along the way, but I don’t think it ever really sinks in until you’re on the other side, out of school and facing that reality. (I’m talking from my own experience and those of many of my peers). I’m gradually becoming okay with that reality now, and I wouldn’t have changed what I took in school because I love what I learned, but I wish there was a bigger emphasis in university and the outside world about the likelihood and legitimacy of a circuitous road for those of us with an arts background.

The reality is arts programs don’t take you from education to career in the same way that an education program takes you to “teacher” or a nursing degree takes you to “nurse.” I have siblings in both these professions which has highlighted our very different trajectories. Maybe A = B for some people and that’s great, but maybe it’s also great when A ≠ B, which I’m still figuring out.

Anyway, I said this would somehow fit into the theme of this blog so here’s the loose connection. All of that was really preamble explaining why the UBC Faculty of Arts Buchanan Courtyard Renewal in 2011 deeply resonates with me. 26 quotations in different languages span the floor of the pond. It’s not just the words that speak to the value of an arts education, it’s the form they take.

UBC Buchanan Courtyard with concentric rings of quotations. Photo by Bob Matheson

I didn’t go to UBC but I appreciate what Susan Mavor, one of the principals at Public Architecture + Communication that designed the pavilion, said about the pond:

The idea was to ‘physically express what an arts program is’–not an A-to-B linear path but a circuitous journey. [quoted in Canadian Architect]

There’s somebody who gets it! What an encouraging space for arts students who walk by each day on their way in and out of classes, as they sit on the wood-and-concrete benches or study underneath the High Modernist arms of the pavilion structure. It’s one thing to hear brief comments from profs that an arts degree may require more creativity with your post-school plans, but it’s another thing to have this reminder sandblasted into your faculty’s physical DNA. This space says it’s okay to take that non-linear road in the yellow wood. Whether the students are conscious of this or not, I don’t know, but I do know space also functions on a subconscious level and I think there’s something to this idea of surrounding arts students with a message of this kind.

So I’m curious – what shape has your post-school journey taken?

6 thoughts on “Road(s) I’ve Taken

  1. how exciting!! congratulations on this new career venture 😀 my post-school journey has evolved back into school again lol. i`ll let u know what happens when that`s over

  2. My post education path has been a twisting and winding one after my English degree. I’m certainly writing a lot and for different publications but I haven’t hit my ultimate goal just yet, That written, things are improving due to my constant work rate.

    • ah, someone else with an English degree! Thanks for sharing – it’s encouraging to know other people on a similar route. Sounds like things are on the upswing for you! All the best with your writing pursuits.

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