Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Or: A Very Public Private Manifesto

again, this comes with a limited knitting content warning.

i have been thinking. really hard, obviously, because i have written another 2500 words since yesterday. everytime i stop writing i sit here and think well, im that little bit closer to the end. and i think about how i shouldnt have wasted so much time thinking about writing before, i should have just written.

all that is pointless really. i am writing now and its nearly finished.

this nearly finished state of affairs makes one think of the future. of life after 'nearly finished', of the possibility of life after 'finished'.

but its not just that thats got me thinking. there have been some very interesting occurrences this year, from which i have learnt a lot.

i think it started with the trip to italy. despite all the postcards from pretty places, it was actually an academic trip and i did a LOT of listening and talking to other academics there. ok, so a lot of it was in italian and/or through earphones.

but i came away from there with a very different attitude about academia. dont get me wrong, ive never had rose coloured glasses about it. i have had many an argument with many a self-important professorial type about the relative futility of academic work, and despite all their protestations and even some of their good reasons, there abides in me still the very deep seated belief that nothing we do in the ivy-covered walls makes one iota of difference to the very real trouble going on in this world. but there was something about the way that a bunch of so-called socialist thinkers behaved that made me feel...well...queasy.

and i can not, will not, shake the belief that unless you are out there at ground zero (and i dont mean the hole in the ground in new york), then you are, one way or another, part of the problem, not the solution. i dont mean to damn everyone of us, myself included, but thats the reality. there are millions of people in this world struggling to get enough to eat on a daily basis, and my pensky file, and all the grants and conferences in the world, will do nothing to help them.

so i am a little bit over people telling me how i need to finish because theres this or that job coming up, this or that grant to apply for, this or that conference to go to. so what? i have been to places in my life that would make most peoples hair curl. most of the people i know today do not know that about me. they make assumptions about me based on what they see now. they see all the things i could, should, ought to do. they dont know that every day i wake up alive is a blessing. they dont know that at one point, i believed i would not get to 39. and these people act like they know something about me, or about the world, that i need to know. they used to make me angry. now i just smile at them. some of these people i even consider friends, and they think they have some right to tell me what i should or shouldnt be doing with my life. (no jo i am not in the least bit referring to the conversation we had today, im still going to make that appointment!!).

i have people telling me things, making judgements about things i do, that i would never dream of doing to them. i didnt know that that was what friendship was. i thought it was complete and unconditional acceptance. if i cant give that to you, let alone you to me, then as far as im concerned, we're not really friends. i can count on one hand the people in my life that i think of in that way. two of them are dogs. ok, i need two hands now :)

my point is, that none of it matters. i am so incredibly lucky to be where i am, to have achieved what i have achieved. im not perfect, there are things i dislike about myself, but who i am today doesnt even compare to who i used to be. i am so lucky to have that many people that i do call real friends, who support me no matter what. i am so lucky to have a partner who is kind, loving, patient, generous and forgiving and who thinks im funny even when im cross (lets face it, i am funny, i dont do cross well!).

on the weekend he said something that is the nicest thing anyone ever said to me. he said that he doesnt care what i do after 'the finish', so long as i am happy. i dont really know what 'happy' is, i have spent so much of my life not being it, looking somewhere else for it.

but today, looking at the light get brighter at the end of the tunnel, thinking of how much darkness remains behind, im pretty sure im happy.

which makes me a very lucky human being indeed.

my manifesto then is to remember that. and to never forget where i came from.

k xx

ps sorry if i sound kinda bombastic, i should probly not think so much :)


Bells said...

Bravo Kylie!

And bravo trent for being so cool and so nice!

amy said...

Hi Kylie,
I think too much, too. I've decided it's better than thinking too little.

Jo said...

you had time for all this thinking, a few thousand words got written and you had that long conversation with me in which I pestered you alot to do something you don't want to do and that all in one day. I don't think any of us need to worry about you working out what to do post Pensky!

PS: Trent is going to get a big head

Margie said...

I had a lot of the same feelings when I was finishing up. And an awful lot of pressure to do the "right thing" and look for a post doc. I decided I didn't really want to be a post doc but I also decided I should give it a shot. Which is why I ended up in canberra - it was a compromise for me, going "elsewhere" to do a postdoc but still not committing to a year overseas in a job I was really not quite sure I was going to enjoy....
The amount of guts it took me to up and quit that job I was actually really proud of. I realised that my family don't give a cr@p whether I am an academic or whether I work in industry or even if I was to quit my current job and go and become a park ranger. They just want me to be happy. I'm sure that it's exactly the same as with Trent. And I tell you what quitting my job in Canberra was one of the best things I ever did.

My PhD supervisor tried to talk me out of it because he had some grand scheme that I was going to be an academic and I had the potential to do well at that but I can't think of much more unexciting than the sum of my life's work being a bunch of journal articles sitting on a shelf. I want to do something that is applied. Something that is now. Something that helps people. And something that allows me to put my personal life first as well.

And I also realised that the only person that I need to keep happy with what I do for a living is myself.

kms said...

thanks for the words of wisdom margie. it helps to know i am not completely insane :)