The birth of responsibility, Part II
24 February 2007 1 Comment
I seem to remember a panic attack about this time a year ago before I submitted the thesis for the first time. Mercury was retrograding in Pisces too. But that recollection is reserved for a different occasion.
It is about 5 months to the second submission and this time it is make or break. And yet, part of me thinks, what if I’m just not wired up to be able to do it? I read the examiners’ comments and although everyone tells me to just follow them to the letter, I feel like I have to question their premises. And as I now learn to watch my mind build the narrative, I wonder if it isn’t a case of self-sabotage. I will never have to be judged by those whom I deem incapable of judging me.
I am concerned in the email exchanges with mentors, colleagues and friends, in the past few days over the obstacles I face and how I am to overcome them, that they are littered with exhortations (mine) over how their premises are not the same as mine. Failing to accept each other’s premises, I told a friend, is the root of the world’s problems. Your God versus my God, your values versus mine. Killing is simply a way of increasing the odds in your favour. But what if, my mind nags, explaining the difference in premises is an excuse for my lack of cooperation, which I do not doubt for a second, is borne from fear and self-doubt. If I fail because they didn’t understand what I wanted, I don’t really fail, do I?
I am aware that all this insistence on duality, on the examiners’ otherness from me, is debilitating, damaging and ultimately unproductive; which is why Alan Watts’ talk yesterday was a good reminder, his forthrightness a welcome jolt back to reality. It is easy to get caught up in one’s self-pity.
If, in fact, I am the examiners and the examiners are me, then their ideas are not separate from mine. Rather than push them away, I should try and embrace them. Maybe that would lead to a more productive outcome, rather than this massive resistance I feel whenever I try to tackle the revision. This one is much harder to achieve than the truce with my office mate. It will require more sitting, and more awareness of taking each moment one at a time. I am daunted by the task whenever I look ahead, weighed down especially by the fears of the past.
All the stories of the past, how heavy they seem, like Sisyphus’ rock. But if things happen now that create the past, then each moment I spend bemoaning it recreates the fear from that past. If there is no past and no future, only the now, then the thesis is already written within each moment. I just need to uncover it one small bit at a time. And maybe, there is nothing to fear after all.
Or rather, I am beginning to take responsibility for my fear.