Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Life According to Polish Proverbs

Between when I went to sleep Monday night and when I awoke again on Tuesday morning, Canada learned its election results.

When I awoke, out of habit, I rolled out of bed and onto my yoga block to sit meditation. But my mind was already curious and active, not able to be silent for the duration of my practice. I then spent the good part of ten minutes gasping at this historic news (each party had made history in one way or another during the election) and continued to read and listen to news stories . Caught in this whirlwind of news from home, my morning derailed a bit. My bed was a mess, abandoned in a pile, and I was already off schedule for my morning coffee and to get to The National Arts Library.

In Polish, there is a saying that my mother loves to quote: Jak sobie pościelesz, tak się wyśpisz (You rest the way you have made your bed). And as the day continued, I found the proverb to be more and more true, my day was turning out to be a wild abandoned messy heap.

I went to the library and researched, my mind still twisting with the news as one party leader after another resigned from leadership. I hit a lag of motivation, adrift in a miasma of big ideas. Later that afternoon I would meet with my advisor to discuss the first draft (a very drafty draft) of my dissertation.

Researching back at The Courtauld, I received a phone call. I had been offered an interview for a job on which my heart was set. All of a sudden I was motivated again, excited, seeing a task ahead, a goal. I zipped through the article I was reading and went home to prep for my advisor meeting. And, suddenly, somewhere in that advisor meeting, I got lost again in my mess of dissertation ideas - I had too many images, I didn't have a clear enough focus. I started to feel sick. So the rest of the day I spent coming back down to earth, relaxing, recentering, shaking away the off-kilter feelings.

The funny thing about this dissertation process is the independence of it all. I have a half hour meeting with my advisor maybe once every two weeks. The rest of the time, the rest of my week, I am left to myself and my ideas. When I struggled with my draft I realized all the things that were wrong with my draft. And, really, it comes down to me, my standards, my dedication to clear writing and presentation. So having this sick-to-my-stomach crisis this "early" in the process (with 5 weeks to go) is a good thing, snap me back into things. Anchor down. Get concrete. Set a course for success. Lay down the basics, stay visual, refine my focus and get cracking. Now for an outline.

But before the outline, waking to a new day, I've set my bed, shaken out the duvet and laid it flat. And so the rest of my day, according to the Polish proverb, should unfold smoothly.

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