Breaking the Surface, Gasping for Air

Here is a poetic description of a woman facing that last step in the doctoral journey. Re-posted from This Ordinary Day:

I am sitting on the train. My PhD defence is tomorrow. I feel like I’m under water, slowly slowly drifting upwards. I can already glimpse the sparkling sun above me, magically sending rainbows my way. The heavy weight of the deep sea has lifted from my chest, and although I’m not yet ready to breathe, I can feel a strange calm, soothing my aching body for those last hours.

A long journey is coming to an end. It started with a jump into cold water, turned into a long and hard dive into unknown seas, and came to its close in almost complete darkness. Strange creatures accompanied me there, first colourful, then bleak and often frightening. From the darkness I followed the light, growing brighter and brighter by the day, the pressures of heavy dark water lifting ever so slowly, until I could see the surface again and realised the journey was almost over.

So I take these last hours to look back into the dark, to say farewell to those dark creatures who have made this journey frightening and intense, bumpy and deep. They have also made it MY journey, and although I certainly won’t miss them – deep down they’ve known this all along, and maybe that’s why they’re the way they are? – I want to face them one last time and carry their imprint in my heart forever as a token of hope.

Every journey, however difficult and dark, comes to an end. Every end is also a beginning, and I cannot wait to see this one unfold, up there, in the warm and sparkling sun.

* I am typing this from the handwritten version on the day of my defence. All is well, I can breathe now.


Explore posts in the same categories: Academic Anecdotes, Life of the Mind

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