October 31, 2013

Parallels with Horton

hortonI was sitting on the train yesterday. Staring out at the stations along the upper north shore, of homes with gardens larger than my house and many a Range Rover in sight. Since I stopped working full time I view the world through a different lens. Im not rushing with the rest of the universe, Im far more deliberate with my pace. There are a lot more thoughts.

When I first started my PhD I spoke for a long time with a woman in the student support office. I was trapped in the space between pulling away and getting on with it. She asked me a simple question – what do you want to be? I paused and said without thinking;

I want to wear birkenstocks every day and I want to speak at a TED event

I’ve achieved one of those.

The other might be a way off. Im happy to wait.

In the wearing of comfortable shoes I’ve given my brain the chance to choose one minuscule topic floating around in the universe and dedicate years to exploring it. I could talk about that one* topic until all the people around me might fall into a stupor on the ground, I could think about the twists and turns that my research question pose for hours each day. I could write word after word after word and still at the end of it find many more words to write.

Im Horton from Seuss’ Horton hears a who.

Im trapped in a space where the part of the universe that I used to think of as just a speck has now become an entire universe and that the experiences of the people I research sit within that space. It has colour, texture, probably even houses and roads. It has odd characters and predictable characters. It has secret paths and tiny lane-ways. It’s stormy some days and calm on the others.

Im embracing the odd existence I live in. I like the space I inhabit as much as a I do the footwear that I choose to wear. When I hear of people, of researchers, at the end of their career still striving for understanding about their speck, their research topic I no longer think ‘God, imagine giving your whole brain over to that one space’ I think ‘wow, the capacity to have an enquiring mind is a gift’

And so I keep going.

Whats your Horton speck?

What do you want to know more of when others might just gloss over it?

*The topic is Hope. And how families of missing people exist in the space between hopeful and hopeless.

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