Walking With the Knight of Pentacles

I’ve been less active on the blog this month than I like to be. The reason for that is simple: I’ve been much more active with school. The first year of my Ph.D is almost up, and boy, the time has flown. I love philosophy, and I love my department; it’s still genuinely amazing to me that I somehow conned these people into paying me to go to school and talk about philosophy every day. It’s a pretty damn good life.

But it hasn’t been without struggles. I’ve had to completely restructure my work habits, and I admit, that’s been a huge challenge for me. See, the graduate program at my department is very loosely structured. Ph.D students have a tremendous amount of independence in the program, and that’s a wonderful thing, but it’s a completely different environment from what I knew when I was an undergrad. I really have no one to keep me accountable except for myself, and this year has proved to be one big ol’ lesson in discipline and determination.

I’ll be the first to admit it: Grad school is hard. Which, y’know, it’s supposed to be. That’s what they pay me the mediocre bucks for. And over the course of the past semester in particular, I’ve found myself doing exactly what people do when faced with something difficult: I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve always been a hardworking, motivated individual (or so I like to imagine), but I spent most of this semester putting off my work because it was just too intimidating. (Part of the problem was also a major bout of impostor syndrome, which is a thing for just about everyone who’s ever pursued a Ph.D. I think on some level, I had a sense that if I actually produced any work, it would be substandard and would prove to my professors that I don’t actually belong in my department.)

Now, of course, this was a terrible idea. To anyone who was considering this course of action, allow me to make this abundantly clear: Running away from your obligations is a bad, bad idea. Fast forward to the month of May, where I’ve found myself with a great deal of work to do and not nearly as much time to do it as I should.

Things are getting done now. But I’ve had to put my head down, stop spending my time on other things, and (in the words of Rihanna) work, work, work, work, work. In so doing, I’ve (re)discovered a wonderful thing: I really love working on philosophy.

Turns out, it actually feels good to get things done. I’d forgotten the sense of accomplishment that comes with working hard and producing something I’m proud of. And on top of that, well, I’m actually kind of good at philosophy. Not the world’s best, by any means, and I have a boatload left to learn, but that learning is why I’m in grad school. I’m good enough to have earned my place here, and the work I’ve been doing in the past month or so is a welcome and much-needed reminder of that fact.

Thinking about all of this in Tarot terms—because, well, this is a Tarot blog and not just a Jack-rambles-about-grad-school blog—the lesson of the month of May has been very much about connecting with the energy of the Knight of Pentacles. I’ve had to reteach myself dedication, patience, and the quiet surety that the Knight brings to everything he does. I’ve had to ground myself again, narrow my sights, and focus on getting shit done. Because ultimately, that’s what the Knight is all about.

This has been a shorter post than what I normally like to produce, and it’s also much more me-focused and much less Tarot-focused than the kind of content I prefer to put out on the blog. That’s just because I’m so deep in work right now that I can’t quite muster anything else. (Side note: Transcendental philosophy is dense.) The next month or so will likely be a period of low activity on the blog, but (inshallah) I’ll be back to normal by July. In the meantime, keep on truckin’.

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