Tomorrow I am defending my PhD thesis at IDS.
Here are my reflections as preparation for this big moment 😀
Today I went to the beach at sunset. I asked permission to the ocean and the sky and the pebbles to finish a period of my life. To conclude. to end. to die. To start a new phase.
I have walked myself to that same beach for endless sunsets over the course of my PhD. Watching the sun go down, speaking to the ocean, asking what the wind had to teach me today has been a ritual of self-care.
In 2015, I spent five months leaving in Saltdean, in a house on top of a hill where I ended up living all alone. To go to Brighton, I had to either take a bus for 30 minutes or bike – one daily hour of ocean contemplation ensured. I saw the ocean pissed with rain and thunder. I saw it quite, whispering. I joined it with tears, felt relieved when I was upset and I could witness the ocean also was enraged with the wind. I learned from the ocean that every day is different. I learned that nature can be a present companion of complex thoughts, nostalgia, and heartaches.
Big waves used to reach the bike lane in winter. It was frightening, I could almost imagine Poseidon coming out with his fork.
Today, I sang a song I invented on ending. I sang it out loud, went close to the water felt my heart speed fast, like hugging a long lost lover.
I told the ocean I know I am just ending something symbolically, but might this symbol tell the ocean loud and clear I am ready for new adventures, I am ready to grow and become more of myself.
I asked the ocean for my thesis defence to be of the colour of the ocean in that moment – a shadow of green and blue and pink. Beautiful, rich, complex like that sunset, with birds dancing in a flock. I asked to be able to be attentive and to notice where questions lead me, to be kind, to be creative like that scene.
To prepare for the defence, today I was particularly alert. I saw the tenderness of a couple. She caressed his hand softly. He whispered something. I found myself desiring to be in between their hands, napping.
I noticed the tree in front of the door of IDS, naked. There was only one leaf left on it. I considered staying to watch it fall, but I didn’t (but please consider the poetic thought).
I saw the spot where the wildflowers are. A weirdly shaped patch on the way to the station that in winter felt unkempt and messy. But I remember it in spring last year, I wrote this lines when I saw it then:
reveals itself in
a patch of wild flowers
wet of rain.
Later in the afternoon, I tried to go find some pants to wear during my defence. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but there you go. I was inside a store, pants at hand, when my mom messaged me Dali had died. My childhood dog. I think he was 15.
A hero of dog. I thought about the people who entered my house and said Dali! with so much enthusiasm. About the way he raised his paw and put it on my leg.
About our walks, and about this photo of my brother and Dali 15 years ago sitting on the steps of my house in Italy. My brother looked tiny. Dali did as well.
This thought came to my mind: love is a choice.
It arrived unexpected and crystal clear. I thought about the way we love family – an every-day endeavour that becomes as natural as drinking water but keeps being a choice.
Like walking myself to the beach at sunset, in winter. Hand freezing, wind on the face, rushing before the sun slips into the night again.