The transition is getting more intense now. This is graduation weekend at KU, and tomorrow morning I'll be at my final commencement exercise for the School of Music.
These things always have a little bit of tearjerker quality to them. There are some students who, bluntly, you're not at all unhappy to see depart, but those are few and far between most years. In most cases, the gamut will be of a number of students who can at least elicit genuine warm wishes for their future, and a few who you'll genuinely be sorry to see going away, even as you are excited for their future potential as a musician or teacher or scholar.
This year, of course, for me the whole business of departure is exponentially more intense. They aren't the only ones leaving this year.
[Note: I can't guarantee that I'll never teach again; I may need to do some adjunct teaching to avoid going bankrupt during seminary, and it's always possible that the pastoral career may have to be in a small church, part-time, and college or university adjuncting would be the most logical other half of an income to pursue. But this theoretically marks the end of my full-time professional academic career as a professor, as far as I understand this calling now. I do still try to leave room for God to surprise me yet again down the line with how this fool's errand finally plays out.]
As a music history professor, you generally are the "major professor" for very few students (unless you're someplace huge like Indiana or other monster-size departments); most of your students are performers, maybe composers or conductors, or maybe music ed majors. They didn't enroll in your school dying to take your classes. It isn't highest priority for them. I'd be an idiot not to realize that, and while I readily acknowledge being a fool I try very hard not to be an idiot.
Still, sometimes the student-professor relationship "clicks" in ways that are incredibly fulfilling and rewarding, even in music history classes. And I've been blessed to have that happen multiple times both here at KU and at previous teaching engagements as well. I can say that this year, even without my particular situation shading my reactions, there would be a number of students who would provoke the sad/excited duality of reactions.
Add in that this is the last time. I'll be missing not only these students, but the ones who aren't graduating yet. And I'll be saying goodbye to my colleagues as well, as classy and enjoyable a bunch as I could ever have hoped. Some of them I'll miss tremendously.
As awkward as this is to say, I'll also miss the diversity of my colleagues. Going to seminary is by nature going to be a rather homogeneous experience in at least one sense; my classmates are generally all going to be Christians, I think (???). The diversity of thought and experience that is inherently part of being on a large university faculty won't be there. I will, in a way, miss that.
I'm not having second thoughts; if anything, I'm even more agitated to "get on with it" and get into the process of theological education. This change of vocation has been percolating for close to a year and a half now and while that may not seem like a long time in the course of a forty-six-year life, it has felt glacially slow.
Still, the intensity of emotion and ... what? Not really regret, but stronger than wistfulness. Grieving? Maybe that's really it; grieving for what I'm inevitably losing here, even knowing there is so much ahead to be gained and experienced.
Now to try to get through the weekend without turning into a blubbering heap.