Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Who Gets To Go To Heaven?

Five classes, 15 units, all As. This is only the second time in my life that I have achieved a 4.0 grade point average for a single semester. Although my first “straight A” semester in the fall of 2003 was special, of course, this one is more so. This one includes one more class or three more units and all but one class is considered “upper division.” In 2003, it was while attending a community college where all courses, by definition, are lower division.

When I told my father he said that he is no longer surprised by my success in school - even when that success is, by every academic measure, defined as “perfect,” or at least very close to it. It still surprises me, however. I honestly can’t figure it out - I’m not that good a student. I’m certainly no smarter now than I was when I was dumb. So what gives? What is even more amazing is my “lifetime” GPA. At one point, it was 0.7. That’s right, an F+. I have worked it up to a 3.0 - a feat I once believed impossible. Fortunately, graduation honors only reflect my coursework taken at Sacramento State. My cumulative GPA at Sac State is currently 3.8. Magna cum laude.

Could it be that honest effort and doing the work (even when I didn’t want to) was the difference? Can it be that simple? The answer is obvious in retrospect. Yes! But I can’t help feeling that there is something more to it; I can’t quite place my finger on it. Oh, sure, those who are familiar with my story know of the trauma and apparent inequities life has served my way. Also well documented in these pages are my many revelations and insight regarding my acceptance of life’s little and not-so-little challenges.

But none of that makes me unique. As bad as my "luck" has been, a great many have seen worse. And many of them have overcome far greater obstacles while others have not. Part of me wants to dwell in the past, wondering “what if,” and “if only” or “I wish I would have…” I could languish there forever. I don’t necessarily believe in destiny or divine intervention per se´, but it is difficult to look back at a random, chaotic and often traumatic series of events without also knowing that it had to be that way.

There are many, many unanswered… strike that, unanswerable questions. While it is easy for me to cite the dysfunction that my life was and extrapolate my isolated incident to equal “something more than chance,” I can equally make the opposite argument citing the lives of far more virtuous individuals than myself who were not so blessed. Is there more to it? I say there is, but I sure don’t know. Furthermore, I don’t believe anyone else has the hard evidence to know either. Certainly not the evidence I would need to be convinced.

Belief does not need to be couched in evidence. Indeed, the evidence is quite clear that there is no evidence to support a great many beliefs. And some beliefs are fully proven. That does not, however, lessen the real benefit or deficit from holding certain beliefs. There is virtue as well as vice derived from faith and often which is which can be confusing. If what I believe drives me to be productive, compassionate, motivated, patient, empathetic, honest, and any number of other positive characteristics, is that not a good thing? Conversely, if my faith drives me in the opposite direction, would that belief not be considered bad? And what about the vast number of people who lead honest, hard-working lives without the need for any particular faith whatsoever? Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Who gets to go to Heaven (or it’s equivalent)? If I don’t, then Heaven loses a “straight A” student. I'm ok with that.

10 comments:

Ba Doozie said...

wow, this is deep...I"m not sure I can add anything here because I'm one of those people that if I think too much about something I become even more confused. I have to back off and just accept things without trying to psycho analyze them...there's just a lot of things I can't wrap my mind around.

I finished up a magna cum laude as well, I know I could have done better but I had an enormous amount of stress in my life the entire 4 years. That really bums me out. But I am just happy with what i have.

kenju said...

Congratulations, Mike, on a job well done (I know that's a cliche, but I can'at think of a better phrase at the moment). I could have done much better in college than I did. I only made the Dean's List once in the 4 years. Back then, my priority was dancing, playing bridge and dating cute boys. Had I spent as much time studying as I did on those other pursuits, I would have graduated magna cum laude!! I know that had I gone to school later in life, I would have done much better too.

Awareness said...

oh, you'll get to heaven, my friend....if of course it exists :)

I am loving your posts lately. They are so introspective and inspirational......your joie de vivre and your motivation to forge ahead is a breath of fresh air.

I'm so happy for you Mike....wonderful results!!

faith? it's an ever evolving development of one's internal learning......it's never static and it doesn't have an end note. that's how i see it......

Bob-kat said...

Firstly congratulations on your results!

I don't know the answers to the points raised here any more than you do. I do know though, that when I have done well, it is when I have been focused and intrinsically motivated to succeed. When I haven't done so well, I know that my focus has been elsewhere and/or I have lacked the motivation despite putting in the ard work.

As for belief, I think the most imporant one is to beleive in oneself, corny perhaps but true.

moon said...

BRAVO MIKE..be proud of your well deserved marks for all you hard work.
I really enjoyed reading this post..reminded me of all the diversity I have had in my life and the way I was able to deal with it all. It ultimately makes or breaks us...but certainly determine the ppl we become and how we continue to deal with what's to come. In my 40's I seem to have found some peace in myself and the choices I have made...maybe because I got through so much crap since childhood and beyond...who knows, or is it because I finally believed I deserve to be happy? There are so many nuances in our psychie that determine, help, or hinder our lives it's mind boggling lol. I am still trying to be the person I want to be..we are works in progress when we choose to keep learning and enriching our lives, whether it be academically or otherwise. I have met many who just don't care and remain in a rut of indifference. The fun part is meeting other works in progress through life. We can all learn something from eachother.
Sorry for going off on a tangent of my own lol.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I have no answers, like Bob-Kat, but I do agree with what she said....(Besides CONGRATULATIONS, I Mean...lol) Focus. True zeroing in Focus. And I too feel faith in oneself is the most important factor in life. I was never good in school and I have the "marks" to prove it, but that did not stop me from focusing full force on creating what I wanted to and needed to, once I could focus on what really interested me---and it wasn't school and a lot of subjects that I had no interest in....
Perhaps, from knowing your history Mike, I know that something changed for you and your faith, after that horrific accident. Whatever that was....may have changed everything. But, I hoenestly don't know that!
Again Congratulations on these wonderful marks!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Dang it....I forgot to say Michele sent me tonight!

Catherine said...

Honest effort and doing the work count for a lot, but so does maturity and life experience I'm sure. It's well established that mature students tend to outperform younger ones. Probably for both reasons - being more willing to work, and having more life experience behind them. Congratulations on your achievement. Here from Michele's

Becky68 said...

Congratulations on your grades, that's really great that you've done so well!
As for the rest of it I can understand where you're coming from as I've been through some fairly heavy stuff in my own life & I do believe I would not be the person I am & where I am if not for the curves life has thrown my way.
Here from Micheles again tonight.

Snaggle Tooth said...

Yay! Doesn't it seem you get higher grades when you're worried you might not?

Meant to be? Of Course! That's faith...
(Heaven or not is some one else's descision)...