Surely I’m entitled to one moribund PhD post every 3 and a half years.May 6, 2014
I’m not clever enough to write one of those witty ‘life of a PhD candidate’ comics. But here’s a pattern that I’ve repeated enough times to think is, in its own pathetic way, slightly classic.
The mornings we wake up and think, of all the things the world needs today, the thing I am going to do is the least likely to be of any help.
The only thing that keeps me going is, that I think the person who will wake up this morning having slept rough and will push her trolley up the street and back down again today, talking to I know not whom, is helping the universe keep turning in a way I don’t understand, and so gives me contentment to push my strange trolley of research and writing, talking to I know not whom – 3 people on the planet if I’m lucky and only because they have to. Like the performer I once was, I still sing full belt into a faceless cavern of darkness, songs whose librettist and composer is long long dead.
It’s a good and humbling thing, to feel slightly pointless. Since that fork in the road a way back, and that other twist in the road, oh, and the other dead end, I have many such days.
These are important days -when we are not full of ‘what I’m doing is going to change the world!’ zeal and hubris.
When we are not bent on ‘I’m going to fix this proper with my smartz and my skillz’.
When the world is not going to get that ultimate reno, makeover, experience of a lifetime or lucky break.
When we don’t have our hand thrust in the air saying ‘pick me, pick me, I know the answer to this’.
It’s just going to be another plodder of a day.
All around in our high profile, high visibility, high impact culture, we are drenched with the imperatives of doing something significant, making a difference, getting things right, fighting the good fight, correcting the heretics, dis-endorsing the dodgy, answering our critics, advancing the cause, taking the next ridge, progressing to the next level, exceeding our expectations.
If you plug into evangelical christian culture it only amplifies this hyper-significance by adding eternal threats to failure and cosmically exaggerating the meaning of success.
Some days are good for just receiving the gift of being alive – something which, in this dangerous and despairing world, cannot be taken for granted. As the wise ones around me keep saying: learn ‘enough’.