Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A single step

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

Of course, there are many steps before that single journey-beginning first step. Even packing one's bags takes many steps. Hey, I took a few just to make sure I had this Chinese proverb right (when I could have just relied on Google instead of opening Bartlett's Familiar Quotations). Which makes me wonder, exactly how many steps follow the single step at the beginning of this journey?

Yesterday I took that first step of my summer journey: 80 words of my thesis, done. Hey, no one said they couldn't be baby steps! The day was filled with many preparatory details, sort of a cross between looking through my bags one last time, and making sure I had my maps. (Because, smart phone or no, I will take maps on a vacation. See Bartlett's comment above.) I re-packed my bags. I worked through a recently written paper to see how it best fit into chapter one of the thesis. I followed trails (and yes, I did much of that online). I had second thoughts: "Should I actually begin with the Introduction? Or with this chapter, with materials already fresh and close at hand?"

By the end of the afternoon, I had slogged through my single step. Eighty words:

Music in the eighteenth-century Lutheran liturgy was composed, performed, and practiced in keeping with theological principles articulated by Martin Luther. Luther’s practical theology of music was evident in the content, actions, and participants of the liturgy. Preceding and undergirding the practical, Luther’s appreciation for and use of music was rooted in biblical and philosophical perspectives that constitute a more systematic theology of music. As with Luther’s theology generally, his theology of music is “occasional” and found throughout his collected works. 
I am not going to write my thesis online. I only put this here because there is no way this is how chapter one will begin when I'm finished with it. But it is enough to get me out of the house, down to street level, and get my bearings.

Eighty words is just under one percent of the total word count of the last grad school paper I wrote. A paper, not coincidentally, on a Lutheran theology of liturgical music. I have fairly good reason to expect that the next steps will be bigger, or will come at a more rapid pace. They had better! I anticipate the thesis being around 40,000 words. Off we go! This thousand mile journey is supposed to be complete by Labor Day.

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