Here’s an unanticipated outcome of finally working on my thesis (at least the first draft):
I’m seriously reconsidering taking a doctorate all over again—with considerable deviations from how taking it initially looked like to me.*
For one thing: I don’t want to leave the Philippines. (There, I said it out loud.) There’s much that’s dysfunctional and frustrating and infuriating and downright sad about this country, but I love it (there, I said it out loud) and there is nowhere else I’d rather be for long stretches of time. Travel I’ll always love, and there are many cities in the world that have claimed my heart (San Francisco just being one of them), but I don’t want to live anywhere else or stay anywhere else for a duration exceeding three months.
Yet another thing: The allure of the prestigious university has disappeared. (Yet another thing I’m saying out loud.) When I was shopping for schools a little over two years ago, my list focused exclusively on the Cambridges and Oxfords and Harvards and Stanfords and Yales and Princetons and other ivy-beleaguered institutions of thought. Now passion has overtaken pride, or cast it out entirely. This isn’t about jewel-encrusted CVs anymore, it’s about pure love for a thing.
Which brings me to a bit of an impasse, which is the thing itself: Because the rub is that I don’t think that what I want to study is available where I am (in the Philippines with its total absence of ivy—university affiliated or otherwise). Because what I want to study is, ta-dah, the field of comparative religion (exotic, the way archaeology is, and equally lucrative—which means practically impoverishing). There aren’t enough varieties of religion to study in this country, unless of course one means the hundreds of varieties of Christianity (and a smattering of Islam’s). And there’s a dearth of religious maturity (we have yet to understand what it truly means to have a separation of Church and State).
Which leads me to the following tentative conclusion: If I’m going to pursue a doctorate, and if I’m going to do it here and soon, it will very likely be in philosophy because it’s the closest I can get to the field of comparative religion (close in the way the Andromeda Galaxy is close).
Unless, of course, I can find an online learning option . . .
There is hope.
* I never actually abandoned the idea of taking a doctorate—but I did decide to postpone it for a good two decades or more. I figured I needed to leave an item or two in my bucket list for my twilight years.