On Following the Heart

(Although not frivolous in subject matter as the previous two might be seen to be, this post arises from my continued pondering over the previous two entries: about attitude, aptitude, determination etc. Here, I post certain observations of my second daughter, Althegal. Since they are my observations, I don’t claim them to be her assessment.)

Althegal did very well in high school, particularly in maths and computers. In fact, she did well enough that she was accepted into the computer program at University of Waterloo which was (and presumably is) considered to be absolutely top notch.

Whether it was the rigorous program, lack of interest or just the wrong time for Althegal, I’m not sure, but her one semester at U of W was less than a scintillating success.

After several years of working and travelling, back she went to university, enrolling in psychology and native studies. In those courses, she’d be doing lots of academic reading and writing of esoteric essays, which did not seem on the surface to suit her strengths in the same way as math and computer studies might have. Didn’t matter. She applied herself and graduated summa cum laude — with highest praise. Not everybody can make that claim: certainly not daddy.

These days, Althegal makes her living by working on research teams at her university whilst she waits for the ink to be applied and dried on her Master’s degree parchment. From my viewpoint, Althegal’s academic triumph is an outstanding example of how steadfast determination  to “follow your heart with all you’ve got” leads to good things.

I know it seems like a long leap from where I began, which was the contemplating paper cups and plug-jiggies, to talking of Masters degrees, but the thoughts connect somehow in my little brain.


Taken in British Columbia in 2009, clockwise from top left: a restaurant in Osoyoos; a touristy thing in Hope; her apartment in Vancouver; on the beach at English Bay, Vancouver; VanDusen Gardens, Vancouver. We were emulating the topiary snowboarder just behind us in the bottom right photo.

(An addendum somewhat related to the above musings.)

During our first visit to Vancouver several year ago, Lyshee had to leave us for several days to attend a conference. When she returned, she brought back several government reports for Althegal, dealing with health and education issues on native reserves. While most of ordinary humans would probably not welcome such dry material with abundant enthusiasm, Althegal received them gladly saying, “I love this stuff.”

That’s when something went click in my brain. She really liked poring over such arcane reading material. How crucial that must be in order to succeed behind the ivy walls of academia. (Or is it ivory towers?)

I guess that’s one reason why she has a Masters degree and I don’t. For me: researching and writing essays was little more than doing whatever was necessary to graduate and get a job. Although I could often appreciate the end result with some satisfaction, I mainly just wanted to get the thing done. I wouldn’t think of reading dry-as-dust government reports as a pleasant diversion on a fine, sunny day. Not back then when it mattered anyway. Different strokes for different folks.

Note: Perhaps, in order to make a point, I have over-stated my lack of enthusiasm for researching and writing as I tremendously enjoyed my university days — for educational reasons as opposed to the reasons why many look back wistfully upon those days.

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11 Responses to On Following the Heart

  1. Well….as far as I’m concerned, you have your Masters in blog writing! Some of them CAN be dry as dust!Hahaaa…..but not yours.
    She’s a Good child! I know you’re so very proud of her!

  2. Bernie says:

    You are a very proud father and so you should be. Your daughter’s love for what she does is amazing and it shows in her work, you have excelled as well my friend in many way. Husband, father, grandfather and I am sure you were an excellent teacher.

  3. KGmom says:

    It is good for children to have the total support of parents–it means the world to them.
    As for the testing high in math, and then pursuing a different field–methinks she puts the same mental skills to use in her chosen field. Smart is smart.

  4. Ruth says:

    Congratulations to Althegal on her achievements. Math was my best subject in high school and I applied to 2 university programs: computer science (pretty new in 1972) and physiotherapy. Fortunately I was only accepted into the physiotherapy program because I now know I prefer human interaction to numbers and machines. I would have been an unhappy programmer.

  5. Diana says:

    I think it’s wonderful when our children surpass us in what we do. What’s really amazing is seeing what they become. Sometimes it can be very surprising!
    I can see why you are so proud AC. Love Di ♥

  6. Mary G says:

    Just read all three of your posts together and I think you are saying something profound – something about yourself and why you were, I am totally convinced, a top notch teacher and father. The tap? Call the plumber.
    What you do with great clarity and delight us all in doing is observe, record and by doing so cause us to see what you have seen. That being a lot further into the brick wall than most of us.
    You have computer skills and photography skills in abundance, too. You make me feel ashamed of my ignorance, sometimes but your comments are always good learning moments for me.
    Looks to me as if your daughter has inherited a lot of your brain power and built on it. Kudos to her. And to you and Cuppa.

  7. Mara says:

    It takes a lot of courage to go back to school after a few years and/or change your whole education direction. But reading dusty government reports? I couldn’t do that…

  8. It’s always interesting the way you share your life and that of your family with your readers, AC. Your pride in Althegal’s achievements shows through and while you downplay your accomplisments, they too are admirable: raising a family, tending to grandkids, being a loving partner. Congrats to Althegal and to you too!

  9. Philip says:

    I think I would enjoy the company of your daughter. I was an unhappy high school study and very much an underachiever. I was lucky to get into university and probably would these days. Yet four years later, I graduated summa cum laude, at the top of my class. I am a kind of compulsive researcher. These days I look things up on the computer but it was not long ago I spend my evenings reading one of several encycoledia I own.

  10. Lorna says:

    I don’t care for your taste in socks.

    that was just to keep you from head-implosion from all the previous comments, which I wish I’d written first.

    Your friend, L

  11. I noticed you don’t have comments opened on the latest post so I’ll just leave another one here…
    We do have the destinction of using University…We say for instance, “Where are you going to college?” simply because that’s the way we’ve Always said it. To us, it sounds more elitist to say “Where are you going to University?” I suppose it depends on what part of the country you’re from….
    Universities here are 4 yrs……Local colleges are 2 yrs.
    Confused now?

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