Friday was one of the proudest days of my life. Those of you with school age kids will understand the feeling…you know the one…it’s the one where you get all teary eyed when your child is up on stage doing a school performance. Friday was like that for me…except it was my husband that was in the limelight.
After four years of part time study, Alastair finally graduated with an Associate Degree in Forestry Management from Melbourne University, and he scooped up four out of the available five awards for his group. He won:
- the Forests NSW Forest Protection Award
- the Hancock Victorian Plantations Award for Academic Achievement
- the Department of Sustainability and Environment Forests Service Prize in Silviculture, and
- the Willmott Forests Award for High Achievement by a part time student.
We weren’t going to travel down to Melbourne for the ceremony because of Al’s work commitments, but the lovely people at the Creswick campus emailed and hinted that he had won an award and encouraged him to try and make it down….we had no idea that he had won FOUR awards! He absolutely blitzed the course, receiving HDs for all bar one class (he got a D for that one).
The terrific thing about all of this is that when he first went to university, straight out of high school, he hated it! He didn’t get his first preference, and wound up doing a computer science degree. He scraped through with passes and the odd credit. This left him with the concept of himself as a poor student. He lacked a passion for computing, and he wasn’t motivated to study, and ultimately that reflected in his grades. Fast forward 20 years….following a random conversation with his dad about the diminishing supply of cabinet-making timbers, and the purchase of a block of land to start to grow a small stand of our own, Al decided to head back to uni to learn more about how to manage what we hope will be our retirement nest-egg.
Two or three times a year for ten days at a time, Al made his way down to Creswick in the middle of Victoria. Several times a day I’d get phone calls or emails telling me about all the different kinds of trees, and about chainsaws, and about herbicides and about the characters he was meeting that were so different to the people he normally hangs around with. He was so excited! Like a kid in a candy shop. He was so passionate about what he was learning each time that it was no longer a chore to do the assignments or to sit through lectures. It was a breeze! He was having fun at school and doing well without the angst and “pain” he’d experienced when he was at uni the first time. And it was refreshing for me to see him so excited about something!
When we’re passionate about something, our perspective changes so much! The workload does not decrease. The complexity of the information doesn’t change. The length of time you have to spend doing you assignments doesn’t change (in fact you’ll probably take longer because you want to keep digging to learn more about your subject). The shift happens in our heads – in the way we think about things. When we are passionate about anything — whether it’s work, or sport, or study, or our hobbies, or family, or faith — it stops being about putting in hard work, and starts being about revelling in the thing that we love to do. It’s natural and organic. It’s about having a life that’s fulfilling and a life where we are fulfilling the purpose we were created for — which is where our passions are born!
The challenge for me as a parent now is trying to guide my sons towards choosing an educational path that will let them work within their passions rather than working against them and making life more difficult than it should be. But how to do that? I don’t know yet. If you have had any experience with this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Here are some photos from Friday: