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 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. Like a kid playing with legos, I am building new towers in my head, and knocking them down. For fun.
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…
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, something inside of me is begging to sit with this destruction, with the emptiness, to hear the echo of the fall and do absolutely nothing.
So I juggle this feeling, I stare at it. Meanwhile, I do yoga, I meditate, I play capoeira, I read poetry.
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, and complicated words.
It seems that two Gioels are growing. One wants to be mystical, silly, and soulful. This Gioel dreams of building a community of people who grow their own food and watch sunsets together. The other engages with academic debates, the other craves contributing to ‘this’ world. Craves coming out.
I can be one person with some people, one person with others. If the ‘wrong’ Gioel comes out, it is a mess. I either come across as quasi-crazy, or just ‘too much’.
Can all of these parts of me come out at once? Can I start a conversation 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.
One, No One and One Hundred Thausand
Uno, Nessuno e Cento Mila is the name of a book by Luigi Pirandello. It is a novel about identity, ego, and the different masks we were as we walked through life.
In this blog I will walk through my PhD experience, and all the creative destruction that will come with it, by sharing letters.
I will write letters to my family, friends, my colleagues, to the people I will meet on the way… I want to play with different voices, I want to meet my One, No One and One Hundred Thousand in one page.
I hope this exercise will help me make sense of a reality with endless perspectives. I hope to grow into a researcher that is aware of masks – the ones I wear, and the one reality wears. While doing so, I want to make the Gioel of endless sunsets, poems and community living proud.