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Well, hasn’t it been a crazy fortnight.

It’s surprising how much stress builds up in your body subconsciously when you wake up at 6am each day, force down a quick breakfast, power-walk to the office, spend the entire day typing, chasing up things you have to rely on other people to do for you, and teaching undergrads, power-walk home at 6pm, force down a quick dinner, and then proofread the day’s work before hitting the pillow at midnight. When I was doing that for the last 2 weeks I never once felt sick. I didn’t even feel particularly tired or cranky. It was just go, go, go.

But now it’s finished, and I’ve stopped, stopped, stopped.

And the migraine has begun.

I was up at 6am again this morning out of habit, but I felt really strange. I finished writing my thesis yesterday. I mean actually fully, totally, finished. Including proofing, cross-checking the references, and formatting. The weirdness started yesterday afternoon when I finished formatting the lists of tables and figures (the last thing I was working on in the thesis). I converted the file to pdf, made multiple backups, and went and delivered a copy to my supervisor. This morning I went to the binder to order the four copies with glue binding. Three for the examiners and the viva chair, one for me.

And today, I’ve just been feeling blank. My head hurts, especially my frontal lobes (which have no doubt been overworked for the last few years and are now in a strange blank state, having nothing left to do). I’ve been chasing up a few last things for submission. I’ve printed my declaration form, and my accompanying materials. Things are almost ready to go for next Wednesday.

I just feel so strange. This has to be the strangest feeling I’ve ever felt. Headache-y, happy, sad, sick, joyful, focused, and insane, all at the same time. And sleepy. Dude, I could do with some sleep right now to get rid of this migraine.

Three years ago I would never have believed I would one day be here, where I am right now. Actually, I didn’t even believe that last week. It didn’t really sink in until the work-till-you-drop routine I’d been on ended yesterday, and I realised there was nothing else left to do. I just sat there at my desk, dazed and stupefied.

I guess that’s what I’m doing now. I just…feel so blank.

But this blankness is different from the blankness I felt when I couldn’t write before. I think it’s a content kind of blankness, a blankness that has seen more than eighty thousand words written, unwritten, and rewritten, and the many thousands more that have come to pass as old, discarded drafts – a blankness that sits back and thinks, well, it’s done. There’s nothing more left to do.

And after I submit next week, I guess I’ll progress to the next stage of the PhD – worrying about my viva.

I wonder if this will ever end.

Something many of us fail to remember during our PhDs, while we are busy collecting data, reading papers, and whinging about how stressful, chaotic, and daunting the whole process is, is how rewarding and enjoyable being a researcher has the potential to be.

There are so many people who wake up each morning and feel grumpy because they have to get up and go to work at a job they dislike, and they do everything they can to procrastinate, avoid tedious errands, and get out of work early in order to find time for things that make them happier. Conversely, most of us ended up in research because we have (or at least had!) an interest in our subject area and wanted to work on our own project to advance understanding in that area. How many people work a job in which they are able to read literature and collect data on a topic they love? (This is, of course, with the exception of the nausea that follows reading/data overload…).

What’s intriguing to me about this is that, when you’re a researcher, work and play often become enmeshed, entangled, and intertwined. The same aspects of our work both frustrate and inspire us. We are fascinated by whatever branch of science or art we study, yet at times we come to despise it. We get cranky, and incredulous, and we slink around the lab looking gloomy and sighing a lot.

I for one, sigh a lot.

There’s a thin line between work and play in research. Often it disappears altogether. There are all sorts of perks and downsides. Today a colleague who’s supposed to be at home writing up walked into the office and handed me a box of Belgian chocolates. Now, I am faced with the dilemma of eating the whole box in celebration of all I’ve achieved this semester, or rationing them out over the next few months in reward of each new milestone I reach with my own writing. Decisions, decisions!

Looking back over the last few years, I see I delved into something I essentially enjoy, but I’ve come to have a love-hate relationship with my work. I love Belgian chocolates and the rush of creating new and exciting projects. I hate coming to the end of the box and feeling a sense of stagnation as I near the end of my work, and transition to write-up.

Ideally, I’d like to have a love-hate-love relationship with my thesis.

I want to end this thing on a high.

 

Van Gogh is one of my absolute favourite artists of all time. My fascination with him began when I was about 17, and in a way that is probably unconventional – in an introductory psychology seminar.

As part of our first semester classes we were required to take what was then called a ‘scheme module’ – a mandatory class not affiliated directly with our department but taught by departmental staff all the same. The particular scheme module we were assigned to was known as The Psychology of Everyday Life, though, again unconventionally, the sorts of topics it contained were far from everyday, and most weeks we would find ourselves sitting in lectures concerning anything from paranormal phenomena to celebrity stalking to colour psychology.

It was a great module.

The only assessment in the module was a 2500-word essay on any of the topics covered in the lectures. Unconventional as they were, most of the topics on our reading list didn’t appeal to me. I was young, and angst-ridden, and a rebel at heart, and I desperately wanted to exert my efforts on something more profound than poltergeists or the meaning of red.

So it was that I gravitated to the psychopathology of van Gogh.

It was a time when madness and insanity fascinated me, especially their social construction and their subjectivity, and the way social and cultural changes across time and place meant that mental disorder was something undefined, misunderstood, and inherently mysterious. I was fascinated by the strangeness of mental illness before the 20th century, the way young women would inexplicably become hysterical and be committed to sanitoriums for rest and relaxation, never to emerge again.

Vincent, on the other hand, was no delicate young woman. He was a contradiction of sorts – equally rough and gentle, violent and serene, lucid and insane. People tend to romanticise his madness, but in fact his poor health frustrated him and he yearned to be well. He loved painting, and he painted everything from flowers to landscapes to portraits. Especially in the Arles period, he loved painting canvases that were vivid with colour, drenched with sunshine, oozing with blues and greens and fiery reds, and emanating, especially, a dazzling spectrum of yellows. He loved yellow. I imagine it reminded him of the sun…and happiness.

This still life of sunflowers in a vase – one of eleven he painted over his life – is in the National Gallery in London and I have been there more than once to just stand there, gazing at it as the crowds buzz around me. His use of yellow is amazing. On one visit I was joined in my gazing by a class of primary school children sitting on the floor, pointing at the different shades of yellow as they were directed by their teacher. Sunny yellow, pastel yellow, lime yellow, mustard yellow. It’s like the entire canvas is an orchestra, playing chords of yellow in octaves high and low in perfect harmony.

My essay considered the various theories of madness – schizophrenia, Asperger’s, syphilis and bipolar. But I argued that I didn’t believe Vincent was mad. He was just one of those people whose greatness is not appreciated until it is too late – and the many sadnesses and rejections he endured in his life made his yearning for happiness, and his pursuit of it, ever more frantic.

When I think about Vincent during moments of near insanity in my PhD, I remember his persistence to carry on with what he wanted so badly to do, and the beauty and elegance he portrayed in his work despite being a complex and imperfect person.

This is something I strive to do.

And in closing he was ever the gentleman…

Handshakes!

Mid-week already and still so much to do and so little time. On today’s menu: Meeting with my supervisors to discuss my thesis examiners.

This has led me to a sort of retrospective on my life so far and how, in a ubiquitously contradictory way, the events leading up to my PhD have been both incredibly typical and incredibly unpredictable. So today I’m taking a walk down memory lane to remember all the crazy things that I never thought would happen (now imagine the harp tinkling in the background to take us back…)

From the age of 4 to the age of 11, I went to a Catholic primary school where we would pray every morning and every afternoon for Jesus to guide us and fill our lives with His love. Our home-time prayer in first grade, verbatim, was:

School is over for today

We’ve done our work and we’ve had our play

But before I go I’d like to say

Thank you heavenly Father.

When I was little, at my ultra-Catholic primary school, we would sometimes be asked about our aspirations for the future. I remember one occasion when I was about 9 years old, when, on a rainy afternoon, our class teacher Mrs O’Sullivan asked us to draw pictures of ourselves in our occupations 10 years in the future. I recall sitting next to a popular, teacher’s pet girl at the time – let’s call her Carolyn – who, for some reason unfathomable to me even at that young age, was hellbent on growing up to be a supermarket cashier…stacking shelves at Coles. Sure, I had respect for supermarket cashiers, they’re just people trying to get by, but surely girls our age should be aspiring to achieve a little more? Annoyed at this, I remember furiously sketching myself as an architect, a crudely drawn dark-haired figure bending over a drawing board covered in notes and building plans. I got a nice tick from Mrs O’Sullivan.

If you had told me then, as a 9-year-old, that one day I would grow up to be an academic, sitting in an office, doing research in the social sciences, I would have looked at you as if you were some kind of alien life form.

Then when I was 10, my parents let me be truant from Catholic school for 6 months (shock horror! 6 months without going to mass!) to go backpacking with them around the world. Not really around the world – around Europe, but at that age and never having been outside Melbourne my whole life, Europe felt like a whole world in itself. Those times were when I saw first hand that there is so much variety in the world, so many people living in so many different ways, and that Catholic school is most definitely not the only way to be. Travelling on a shoestring also made me forego any attachment to luxury on the road, and I enjoyed ‘rednecking it’ – living cheaply in backpacker hostels, driving from city to city in a 6th-hand ’91 Transit, and surviving on some of the most interesting street food I’ve ever had.

So then, I forgot about being an architect and instead wanted to be one of those people who work for Lonely Planet, getting paid to travel every conceivable nook and cranny of the world, discover the ups and downs of everything, and then write about it in a sexy little book. And if you had told me then that I would grow up to be an academic, sitting in an office, doing research in the social sciences, I would have scoffed at you and said “Why sit in an office when you can zig-zag across the remotest corners of the world?”

When I turned 11, everyone in my class wanted to be a marine biologist. I have no idea why. But I remember that to say you were going to be a marine biologist when you grew up, at that time, was an extremely cool thing to say and made you look very intelligent. Not wanting to be a sheep, and not knowing what a marine biologist was anyway, I made up my mind to become a zoologist instead. That way, I succeeded both in being unique and in looking intelligent. It was also very cool at that time to be ‘into’ animals (it being the golden age of Free Willy and WWF), so I was pleased that I could become some sort of animal-scientist and look cool at the same time.

If you had told me then that I would grow up to be an academic, sitting in an office, doing research in the social sciences, I would have cried my eyes out at not having an occupation related to saving cute animals and looking intelligent.

After I left Catholic primary school, I parted ways with most of my Catholic classmates, who went to Catholic high school to continue going to mass and wanting to be marine biologists, and instead went to public high school, where I was amazed to find that no one sang Advance Australia Fair at Monday morning assembly, or even had Monday morning assembly at all, no one prayed for Jesus to fill their lives with His love, and many of my classmates’ parents were, to my childish horror, divorced (!). And although I was ambivalent about public school, away from my Catholic ‘friends’, I’m glad now that I went to a state-run school with overcrowded pre-fabricated classrooms, leaking ceilings, and 15-year-olds smoking fags behind the bike shed. Because it opened my eyes to the real world.

Having found a small group of friends at public high school who, for a change from Catholic school, actually accepted that I was different and liked me for who I was (an eccentric, very un-Catholic bookworm of a child from a working class family), I was confronted with a much heavier workload than I had been accustomed to in primary school, and I was glad about that because it challenged me. I was a nerd in high school and aced every subject I took. Of course, that doesn’t mean I enjoyed every subject: In fact, my favourite subjects at that time were in the humanities – history, English, French, and art. I wanted to become an archaeologist and a writer, and travel the world not for Lonely Planet, but for some obscure philanthropist’s enterprise which would fund my trips to Egypt to conduct excavations on the Giza plateau, Howard Carter style, and then I would write up my excavations for classics journals and become a world-famous expert on ancient Egyptian dynasties.

And there was no way at that time that I would ever consider giving up this exciting dream of becoming a real life Indiana Jones to become some boring academic in an office doing social science research crap.

Life went on and in time I moved permanently to the Northern hemisphere and finished high school in a completely different cultural environment (and even a different language). That’s a whole different can of worms that can stay closed for now.

After a few years, when I was about 16, I wanted to become an architect again. But researching the job opportunities in what is still, unfortunately, a male-dominated occupation, I became disillusioned with the idea. I wanted to study something that fitted my personality – something that would feed my relentless, maddening curiosity and set me free from the constraints of Catholic school, unrealistic expectations to become Indiana Jones, and the monotony, for me, of being an architect.

Though I can’t believe it now, I considered studying fine art, choreography, or literature. I remember sitting at the kitchen table at home, staring down at the mallard ducks printed on the vinyl tablecloth, and thinking what on earth should I do in my life?

Suddenly (and to this day I can’t remember how exactly), I decided to go to England to study psychology.

I am months away from completing a PhD thesis in psychology and I have no idea why I decided to study it.

As a first year undergraduate I was struck by the prestige (at least to me!) of being a university student. Wow, I would think to myself, I’m actually a university student. I would go around in disbelief that I was so intelligent (I wasn’t, of course, but what do you expect from a 17-year-old). Then when I was in my second year, it dawned on me that first year undergraduates are actually quite naive, and that the really intelligent people are second year undergraduates. Then as a final year student, I felt on top of the world because I was, in my still naive mind, at the ‘top’.

At that point I still had no idea that I would grow up to become an academic sitting in an office doing research in social science.

So, what next? Six months before I started my PhD, I was still in two minds about whether to apply for a Master’s degree or a PhD. I went for the PhD. To this day I have no idea why.

In my first year as a PhD student I felt very busy, very sleep-deprived, and very unaccustomed to having so much freedom (as my supervisors have always allowed me) to direct my own research project. Which I loved. I also felt (similar to when I was an undergraduate) on top of the world because I was sure, this time, that you must be pretty intelligent to be able to be a first year PhD student (Note to self: Not necessarily). I was so busy becoming accustomed to being a PhD student in my first year that I had little idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up and very little time to think about it.

Towards the middle of my PhD – in my second year slump – that’s when I knew enough about academia to want to be an academic.

Now I’m nearly at the end of my PhD.

When I grow up I want to be an academic, and sit in an office, and do research in social science. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now. I’m an academic in training.

I believe it now, but when I remember my life in retrospect, I can’t believe I wanted to be an architect, a zoologist, an archaeologist, a choreographer. I can’t believe I thought I would dig up another treasure trove in Egypt and become famous like Howard Carter. I can’t believe my dreams have been so wild and so diverse, and how they have ended up focusing on something quite so tame, quite so modest, and quite so content.

But I am happy.

Today I am at a point where I have completed all trivial ‘bits and pieces’ of work that have plagued me over the summer: Things like writing and submitting conference abstracts (which take a hell of a long time to get right, despite being only 250 words), registering for conferences (these also take a long time because of bureaucratic funding applications, forms, committees, and authorising people being on leave), preparing lecture slides (the set I did for a 2-hour talk took 2 whole weeks to perfect, twice as long as I had thought originally), setting up and completing side projects (these drag on for weeks when your heart isn’t in them), rewriting papers (that were rejected by particular epistemologically biased journals), and PROCRASTINATING (no explanation required). So, for the last 8 weeks I’ve been madly rushing to get these ‘bits and pieces’ done, as much as is possible between cyberdistractions and periods of inspirationlessness, often beating myself up for not going fast enough.

Now the bulk of it is over, done, complete; for better or worse. Now I have a little time left to make the decision I’ve been expertly avoiding, evading, and escaping from for 2 years: Where is my research going? What am I going to do next?

And then this is the part where I run from my office, screaming and flailing my arms, unable to endure the incredulity of not knowing what to do for a second longer, and finally losing all tangible hope that I could ever come up with a theoretically meaningful concluding study for my thesis. I wander around, dazed and muttering to myself, for several days, before I am escorted by a pair of men in white coats to some pristine relaxation resort in the countryside, where I spend the rest of my days swinging from deep, inconsolable despair to insane, nonsensical mania at my miserably failed PhD.

It is almost a pity the reality is so much tamer!

In reality there are no mad outbursts, no fits of rage, no (happy?) endings in psychiatric wards. In reality there is just calm little me, calmly working myself into a sweat at how I can calmly finish my thesis while staying calm, all the while staying calm, calm, calm. No drama. Just need to make calm decisions, even though there is so little time.

I remember some of the things I said before about hope, and hard work. Those were probably some of the best reflections I’ve made about my experiences in this thing. Hope and hard work are the two things that have always carried me through the crises, the binges, the periods of sadness, and the moments of madness. I’ve afforded myself the opportunities to take to my bed, indulge in self-pity and wallow in laziness, but after that I’ve willed myself to get up, tidy up, and get back to work. Since it hasn’t killed me I guess it will make me stronger. And it will make you stronger, too!

In finally coming to a point where I can’t procrastinate any longer, I suppose only hope and hard work can save me now.

This feels like a tight corner, where there is no room to move – a corner whose walls have been edging inwards bit by bit ever since I started, and which have finally wedged me right in. I can’t move anywhere until I decide, and I can’t decide until I think about it, and I can’t think about it until I stop procrastinating! This is why I love procrastinating so much. Because it lets us do fun little things while the big important stuff gets put on the waiting list.

Today is one day when hope and hard work must come to the rescue and push me to finally name my next move.

Today I’m going to choose to have hope, and I’m going to choose to work hard. And I’m going to choose to be happy because those two things are going to carry me through to the end of this great journey.

I just want to begin the upcoming academic year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) with the affirmations that we’re getting there, and we can do it.

Really.

As much as I’m at a stage in my PhD where I feel cynical about the dignity of academic research culture, I also realise that it doesn’t really matter what I feel; the aim is to just finish it.

So, this is probably (hopefully) the last leg of my journey. I’m going to submit in May. I’m going to my viva in the summer. And then I’m going to finish the PhD.

And so are you, if you’re reading this and doing a PhD, and you’re going to do it in the right time for you, and very successfully too.

We’re getting there.

We can do it.

Yes.

Happiness…that fleeting, evasive, near-invisible entity that we keep chasing, often to find that we are so busy chasing that we have forgotten to be happy in our own right.

Be happy.

They say happiness is at its highest when we stop worrying about being happy and just live as if we did not care, and then, supposedly, happiness comes of itself. This isn’t happiness, though: it’s flow. Flow is a state of deep engagement with valued activities such that we are so absorbed in doing them that we do not consciously realise that we are. Happiness, on the other hand, is deliberate, a conscious choice. We all have a choice to be happy, and unless we consciously make that choice, and determine to be happy, then we are left in that not really ill, but nevertheless mundane and unrewarding state of normality that so many others are in around us.

I choose to be happy, therefore I am.

People generally think, however much they might deny it when you ask them, that better surroundings and better circumstances will make them happier. To an extent, it’s true. But when you consider that we can feel so much happier when we make a deliberate choice to be, in everyday life, surroundings and circumstances matter less and less.

There are any number of “happiness exercises” to follow in a daily regimen that have been demonstrated to make people feel lastingly happier. For example, counting blessings, actively expressing gratitude, engaging in random acts of kindness, and enjoying the present moment are known to uplift spirits and foster a genuine sense of happiness, rather than just momentary, hedonic enjoyment.

Take counting blessings.

We really don’t realise how much time we spend each day worrying or complaining – whether out loud or to ourselves – about things that are lacking, not good enough, broken, damaged, dead, annoying, hassling, unattractive, or bad. I myself often wake up annoyed that I have woken too early or too late, that making breakfast is a hassle, that there is too much traffic, that my work is mundane on a day-to-day basis, and that evenings are boring and there isn’t anything worthwhile on the radio. How much happier we’d be if we cast these negative thoughts aside and replaced them with deliberately chosen positive ones instead! This comes about from self-awareness. Many of us hardly ever meta-cognise – think about our thoughts – and as a result often aren’t aware of how damaging those thoughts can be. If we stopped every so often in the course of a day, and thought, “How have my thought patterns been today? Have I been thinking positively about things, or have I been annoyed, angry, bored, pessimistic, or negative?” we’d be able to recognise the nature of our thoughts and make a deliberate choice to think differently – positively – if we recognise that we’ve been negative about things. Think about all the good things in life! And no, this doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to things we should be concerned about or try to improve – it means acknowledging the things we have, that many others don’t, that make our lives worthwhile. Acknowledging the good stuff makes us feel happier, and when we are happier, we do have a greater motivation to work on the things that aren’t so good.

Expressing gratitude goes along the same vein.

Often we pass kindness by or acknowledge it with a “thanks”. And yet we are quick to shout and make a scene when things don’t go our way because of something somebody else did. For example, if we’re served a meal in a restaurant, we enjoy it, pay for it, and leave. If we find it’s not to our liking, though, we complain, express irritation and anger, and often feel negative about it for the rest of the day. Why this disproportionate favour for being negative? When’s the last time you complimented a chef or cafe when you really enjoyed a meal? What makes us think that paying money for it is all we owe to someone who has given us something we really enjoyed or admired? People – whether close to us or not – do nice things for us every day, often without us even noticing. And if we fired up that meta-cognition and took notice of those things, and made a point of really thanking those people properly, instead of dismissing them with a mere “thanks”, we’d surprise ourselves with how good it makes us feel. Not only that, but it’s surprising how noticeable those people’s happiness is when they are recognised for their efforts when they so often go without proper recognition. That feeling of mutual happiness rebounds, reacts, and creates more happiness.

Random acts of kindness.

Most of us allow ourselves to get carried away. With the trivialities of our work, study, everyday relationships, and daily chores. When we meta-cognise, it’s sad to see ourselves trudging along every day working on our own chores without sparing any time to do something helpful for someone else without being asked. This is where those irritating, self-absorbed excuses come along: “I’m tired”, “I don’t have time”, “I’m too busy”, “Why should I do that for them if they don’t do it for me?”, “Why doesn’t someone else do it?”, and “I’m not Jesus Christ/God/Miracle Man/Superman/Wonder Woman”. Yes, these are excuses. They are excuses just the same as we excuse ourselves from doing small-scale chores every day under the pretext of “not having a chance to get around to it”, like replying to emails that take less than 5 minutes to deal with, calling a friend we’ve been meaning to meet up with, or cleaning the house. I still believe – very definitely – that however “busy” we think we are, none of us work 24 hours a day, and throughout the day, we all have short periods when we are doing nothing – daydreaming, sitting around chatting, or procrastinating. It’s those short periods each day that we can capitalise on to do something helpful or nice for someone else, without being required to. The happiness that results from doing something nice for someone completely randomly is pretty indescribable – it’s exalting and humbling at the same time, because it reminds us of the power of humanity to transcend the trivialities of everyday life, and creates happiness in others. So yes, we do have time, we are not too busy, and we can create happiness by being nice to others.

Enjoying the present moment.

Zimbardo’s present work on time perspective is undeservedly overshadowed by his infamous Stanford Prison Experiment that graces just about every psychology textbook on the market. As a doctoral researcher, I’m often flabbergasted by the amount of time I spend (and this is meta-cognising again) thinking about the past or the future, instead of looking at the present and what I can enjoy about it. Yes, there is a need to look back at things that have happened in the past and recognise our mistakes, shortcomings, and failures and cherish our memories of good times. There is also a need to take precautions against worrying events of tomorrow and have hope for the future and imagine ourselves as better people in times to come. But equally, we should take time each day to be in the moment – be mindful – and to think about our immediate surroundings, our inner feelings, and our present thought processes. There’s a lot to be discovered. I’ve often done this with a pen and diary – just sitting alone in a quiet, breezy room, feeling the air, and doing free, continuous writing for an hour or so, jotting down anything that comes into my head, describing the room and how I’m feeling, the sound of the traffic outside, the dogs barking, the things I’ve been thinking as I’ve been writing. Then I go back and read it – that written account of an hour of mindfulness – and it’s liberating. It serves to calm us down from the constantly-on-the-go attitude we live with, and yet it’s different from zoning out in front of the TV, or “crashing”, because those activities put us in a passive state where we aren’t really thinking about anything, and we definitely aren’t meta-cognising!

These are all things that can make us happy. They’re all free, none of them have to take up too much of our precious time, and they are all results of our own deliberate choices.

When I was in elementary school we had a teacher known as Mr K. Though I couldn’t make any sense of it then, he would always tell the class: “You make a cake, you go down to the shop to buy the eggs. Be proactive.” Cake? Eggs? And what does ‘porcative’ mean? Such was the naivety of the 11-year-old me. And yet it all makes sense now: We grow up, and we let ourselves loose in that ever-flowing river of work, chores, and business as usual. We forego the things that take extra time or that require us to do something different or go the extra mile, yet those are often the things that make that much difference to our own happiness, and that of people around us. Isn’t it a shame that we pass them by? Isn’t it a shame we keep flowing down that river, so rarely making the deliberate choice to stop and do something to create a bit more happiness?

“You must know why you are alive, or else everything is nonsense, just blowing in the wind.” – Chekhov

The reality we live in is merely a stream of consciousness that we create together. When we are no longer together – when we are alone – we cannot continue to create that reality. Because creating reality with others is what we do every day, alone we cannot understand why we are. Thus, things become nonsense – they can no longer be woven into a reality we construct with those around us – and we cease to have a purpose.

One of the major obstacles in the journey of bereavement is finding a purpose again. Where once living made sense because we shared it with someone, now it seems as if the tasks of each day are something I complete mechanically, without thinking, all the while wondering what my greater purpose in life might be. I thought it was to make you happy!

The Cherry Orchard is growing, blossoming, ripening, and you are not there to see it.

Friend of WikiLeaks

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The Final Countdown

Submission of PhD ThesisMay 1st, 2013
The big day is here. Joy to the world!