The byline on my publicity material for the therapeutic writing workshops which I run says -
Write it down… Make it real… Keep a journal!
and it's true - writing something down on the page makes it a reality; a reality which looks back at you from the page. it becomes very present. I can no longer go on ignoring it, stuffing it back in a corner, finding reasons to not address the topic. I've tried all those, but 'It' keeps popping up its head and waving to me - 'It' being the possibility of pursuing a PhD. Finally, it has jumped up and down vigorously enough that it has finally leapt out of the bag and splattered itself all over this page. There It is - and here are some initial thoughts on where I am at the moment with it. Any observations would - as always - be welcome!
I AM pondering a PhD - but still battling with the pros and cons of taking it further. My Tutor from my MA course believes in me and my capabilities…my family and a number of friends and acquaintances likewise…I seriously doubt my abilities, but am - at last - sensible enough to at least slap my Inner Critic off my shoulder and tell her to get the hell out of here for a bit while I do some thinking.
So what is making me hesitate? I guess I can bring it down to three main problematic factors…Tiredness, Monkey Mind and Finding the Passion.
I bounced off my 60th birthday a year and a bit ago with a fair amount of resiliency (that was the Day After - the Day Before, I was in the Black Valley of gloom and despondency. Sound familiar to anyone?). But the one thing that this stage of life has brought for me without any invitation whatsoever, is the spectre of the Four O'Clock Crash. I just get very tired. It p's me off no end, but there it is. By 4 pm on many days I am slowing down considerably - in body - and - more importantly - in mind.
Now - from what I've seen of others pursuing a 'Fud', tiredness is not the most helpful of companions. It is abundantly clear that pursuing a PhD is damned hard work. There would not be so much of an obstacle if I was able to sit in my chair - at the computer or in a library - and work away in the sole pursuit of academic excellence. (Not so good for the ever-spreading beam - but wonderful for the brain!) But also on my agenda - like it or not - is the day to day running and maintenance of quite a big house and garden, alongside developing and running workshops and practising in my professional capacity as a counsellor. I'm really not complaining - I love my life and all these other activities are the spice of life to me - but oh, I do get tired!
This multi-tasking contributes to the already present and sometimes severe case of Monkey Mind with which I seem to have travelled through life. My concentration is - and always has been - appalling, and just one of the reasons why attaining even my MA was considered a non-minor miracle by me. I have to hop from one focus to another in my daily life, but my mind does it without my bidding anyway. In the same way, I hop from topic to topic, interest to interest - and I was about to say that my problem is that I have so many interests.
Most of the time it is, in fact, a gift - but this leads me on to the third stumbling block as far as a PhD is concerned…Finding my Passion. The problem is that I have several - but I still struggle with homing in on one *defined* area about which I feel I can say I could stay passionate for seven years ( the length of a part-time PhD). One of the (many) pieces of good advice my Tutor gave me was - 'you have got to be a bit obsessed with the topic in order to get through when the going gets tough - which it will…'. I am aware of this - and am daunted by that Monkey Mind which would start hopping about all over the place as i progressed through any course.
I have to be sure in my mind, before I make a commitment, that - at the time I make it, I honestly intend to see it though. And for that, I need to know at the start that I have both something to contribute, but also something which truly engages both the left and right sides of my brain.
So there you have it. I have the problem…but I'm still mulling over the solution, because one thing I *am* absolutely certain about; this Monkey Mind is getting agitated - like a bored 14 year old (or a monkey!) it needs to be occupied on a different level to the daily routine - as it was when it buzzed - really BUZZED - while doing the MA course. Otherwise it might just start getting very, very naughty - I'll become an even Grumpier Old Woman!!
I'll return here to share my mulling and deciding - it really does help me, on this matter, to 'share it with a friend'. And just to encourage me further, I'll hop over, with my Monkey Mind, to see what someone who achieved her PhD last year has to offer in the way of words of wisdom - someone who really knows what perseverance and achievement against the odds really means - someone who found - and clearly still has - her Passion. Now I just need to pinion down mine!