I am sitting in a room with about 12 PhD students typing in front of their laptops. Next to me a big window, and the most typical and picturesque English countryside: large grey-bluish clouds, a timid sun playing hide and seek, and the brightness of the green. I’m in a ‘writing retreat’.
The clock just started ticking and I will be writing for one hour – I hear the furious clicking of the others around me. I would not say I’m intimidated, but it takes some guts to center – to forget that people all around me are writing, thinking, working – to shift my attention inside.
In January this year I started a PhD at the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of Sussex. I dove into pages and pages of academic writing. I got excited, I eagerly watched my thoughts shift, I have become aware of the unfolding transformations inside of me.
By the end of this PhD I will be three years older and I will have come to the end of my twenties. The ‘me’ that will wake up somewhere three years from now might enter games of defending ideas in public, teaching, applying for grants… I should be on the road to ‘constructing new knowledge’, to having ideas I can confidently defend.
Instead, every day I feel with less parameter to define and explain what I know. I am not really sure I know how I can even know at all that I know something. Every day, some big construct inside of me collapses, loudly, leaving rubble behind. My intellect rumbles. Instead of pulling out my sleeves and starting to build back from maceries, something inside of me is begging to sit with the emptiness, to watch the eco of the fall and do absolutely nothing.
So I juggle this feeling, I look at it curiously; I catalyze it in meditation, painting nights and yoga. PhD-wise, I’m in the closet with this feeling of falling constructs. A PhD begs for intellectual flourishing. Or does it? I constantly hear comments around creating ‘new knowledge’ that can inform more research, constructs and complicated words.
It seems that two Gioels are growing. One wants to be mystical, dreamy, and soulful. This Gioel dreams of building a community of people that grows their own food and watch sunsets together. The other engages with debates, craves contributing to this world. Craves coming out. I can be one person with some people, one person with others. If the ‘wrong’ Gioel’s comes out with someone, it is a mess. I either come across as quasi-crazy, or just ‘too much’.
Can all of these parts of me come out in one? Can I start a conversation with myself that brings together all the ‘mess’, so that I can take myself on the walk of my personal and intellectual growth without leaving any Gioels behind, whining?
So there we go, I want to start a blog because if I don’t start talking through my thoughts I will loose track of who I am becoming. I am starting this blog to find my voice. It will be a window inside my mind and it will push me to develop a raw intellectual honesty.
What will this blog be about?
This blog will be about the convoluted internal adventure that I will live through while doing a PhD. It will jump between intellectual dilemmas, spiritual exploration, and personal reflections – and how all of this can come together under one roof.
Why should you follow this blog?
There are different reason you might want to follow this blog. Here is a short list.
Follow this blog if:
- You are interested in at least one version of Gioel and you want to meet the counterparts.
- You buzzwords such as ‘development alternatives’, ‘youth’, ‘NGOs’, ‘consciousness’, ‘social entrepreneurship’, ‘Colombia’ and ‘organizational culture’ and you want to hear some of the stories behind them.
Don’t follow this blog if:
- You think that work and personal should not mix up
- You think ‘development’ and ‘spirituality’ have nothing to do with each other
‘There is hardly a week that passes when I don’t ask the unanswerable question: what am I now convinced of that will turn out to be ridiculous? And yet one can’t forever stand on the shore; at some point, filled with indecision, skepticism, reservation and doubt, you either jump in or concede that life is forever elsewhere.’ (Arthur Miller, 2000 cited in Reason)