We Are All Mad Here

I’ve been sitting still for the past two days. Trying to wait for the mud to settle and clarity to come. After having a rough conversation with my Advisor Chair about a timeline to complete my program, I was feeling particularly cloudy.  I had to sit and really ask myself if I was rushing this program, this process, and if I could really do what is necessary if I want to graduate in May 2015.  I had to consider the alternatives and I had to wait and listen. Typically, because I have such frequent conversations with myself, as soon as I ask the question it comes and even if it is something I do not want to hear, I cannot ignore it.  This was no exception: I am ready.

I’d heard that there will come a time when you feel it in your bones, that when it is time to write you want to write. For someone like me, who always wants to write, that is kind of an interesting thing to consider. What will it feel like to want to write even more than I already do? I pretty much write all day every day. I draft and edit, format and outline incessantly in my mind. I have even noticed myself needing to close my eyes to see the words written out before I speak them. So to feel that would in any way intensify was both exciting and terrifying to imagine. I fancied myself a bit like Molly Mahone moving my fingers composing My First hearing the notes and seeing the words written across the infinite horizon.

I relayed the fact that I am ready to my Chair and she was, of course, supportive. I still need to re-do my timeline and make sure that all my ducks are in a row but spiritually and emotionally speaking, I felt affirmed. I realize how much I needed that from her when I thought of my journal and my coaching session:

1. Fear–>That Cheryl would disagree with my decisions pertaining to how I chose to write my dissertation.

2. What does this fear say about you? That I am alone, unsupported, untrustworthy, and naive.

3. Is it an interpretation or a fact? It is an interpretation; and an overwhelmingly negative one.

4. Choosing a stand. I will be humble and open but not empty, and I will choose my choices knowing that I have done so with full consideration of those who support me and want the best for me.

What stuck out to me particularly in reviewing my notes was remaining open but not empty. The fact of the matter is I am ready to immerse myself fully in my work. I am ready to be done with classes and solidify myself as a researcher. And the truth was, that was never up for debate. The question was never about me, but about how…

So tonight I started making notes for Chapter 1. I wrote down the beginning, the look at indigenous cultures and the consideration of self only in the whole sense. Fractals…Ubuntu…Sawa Bona evidence of the I/WE concurrence. I noted the origin of social psychology and the notion of being I and We at the same time; and how each influenced the development of the other. I scribbled down notes from social media researchers and college student development theorists; “How is it that we are both more connected and more disconnected at the same time?” I made note of what I needed more of, I made note to find Zachary’s third space slides from this summer, and I wrote the name “JUNG” largely and circled it. I could see it taking shape, I could see the road I was traveling down and I was excited.

It would be remiss of me to imply that this process was anything other than wild. I realized that I was using classical theory to point out insufficiency; as evidenced by the lived experience. This experience which, right now, exists as I understand it in my being and so then also, readily in the consciousness of all of us.

I was reading a dissertation of a classmate who just graduated, he wrote about cultivating compassion in college students. It was then that I recalled my first moment walking through the university. I’d just arrived and had never seen campus before. I was struck by the beauty and by the architecture, landscaping, and endless tributes to beauty and peace. There were banners hung by the student center, on it was the word “Solidarity”. I celebrated the idea; unity, support, moving together with common purpose. I thought surely I was in the right place. I smiled at the affirmation.

It was not until I began working and taking classes that I re-examined this memory and decided that perhaps it was not a banner of what we are, but an aspiration of what we are working towards. I wrote the word down. I thought about how this fit with the rest of my notes, my work. Well…isn’t solidarity what we want? The end result? If it is the aspiration of the university as an institution, then surely it must exist in the body of university as a people, right? Or is that the hope too?

That is my piece, I thought. That is my contribution. I wrote down the equation Connection–> Vulnerability+Empathy=Compassion and I drew an arrow back to connection from compassion. Where does connection come from? Well, that is what I want to know. How do students in a Student Affairs graduate preparation program conduct and compose connection? Conduct–> (n) Managing it within an organization (v) transmit a form of energy & Compose–>order or arrange parts to form a whole. Sidebar: It is curious that earlier this week when I was sad I watched this video and cried. Not because I was sad but because I was so moved. I thought, the answer is always in music and here were my two perfect words, two musical terms. 

It is my theory that connection begets the rest…but that it begins and ends (and begins and ends again, infinitely) with connection. That, I thought, is enough for the day. So I closed the book and looked at my pages and pages of notes. I smiled and was happy. I thought how wild and scattered my notes looked but how sound I felt among my mess. I thought of Alice, and the Hatter and decided my place should be Wonderland. And in wonderland my labor would be one of love and madness.

You have a great capacity for love, it is your job to find out how God wants you to spend your love. 
~The Sound of Music 


5 thoughts on “We Are All Mad Here

  1. I cannot wait to read about this process (here) and your final result (the There that is already and not yet). You are an inspiration and an artist. Feeling connected to your work and being….

  2. Thanks for sharing this. There are a couple of things that perk my interest. The first one is the process of generating ideas and putting them into words, sentences, paragraphs and indeed into an entire document. After listening to some creative people even in the academe there is something mystical about it and I can’t deny that I would like to do something different from frying my brain cells and altering my moo.In the past, I heard a colleague talk about the process of “harvesting” ideas from the subconscious mind. The other is the notion of solidarity or at least the idea of interdependence between people and a sense of balance and harmony with nature and the divine – subscribed to by several African people groups commonly referred to as Ubuntu. Hope we can interact around those ideas before you become a PhD (when you will become my professor).

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