I’m tentatively stepping back into my final chapter today after 10 days of no dissertation related work or thought. It’s been lovely and restful, though I’ve consciously not started any tempting big projects because I know I’d have to set them by the wayside while I finish the dissertation. I’m finding it difficult to mentally gear up for this final push.
Mountaineering metaphor ahead: When I was in high school or early college, I climbed Mt. Shasta in northern California with my dad and brothers. I’m typically not the adventurous type. Sleeping on the ground, waking up at 4am, walking uphill for hours on end. I’d rather curl up with hot chocolate and a good book. On this particular hike, I wimped out at the red rocks near the summit. We’d already gotten up Desolation Gulch and were heading into the final Miserable Mile when I decided to stop. (In my defense, I did have a cold and was unknowingly in the process of getting second degree sunburns all over my ears, upper lip, and nose.) The problem for me at the red rocks was that I couldn’t see the summit ahead. I had to trust those who had done the hike before. I had to trust that I had enough Gatorade and Gorp to get me through, that my legs wouldn’t fall off, and that I’d be heading down soon. But without being able to see what was ahead, I couldn’t push that last bit.
I’m feeling some of the same things with the dissertation. I know I’m getting close, and I can image what the final destination looks like, but I can’t see the full path to get there. I’ve got to put one foot (or word) in front of the other, trust my guides, and be ready to hear that there’s another rise after the turn ahead but that I can make it.
If we want to go the route of childbearing metaphors, dilation is slow, and I’m waiting to hit transition–when there’s no turning back, I start to swear, I can see why people want drugs, and I somehow feel more in control.
So for today that means freewriting, reading some research, getting out the calendar to plan the days ahead, and breathing deeply.