Correspondences

The Transcendentalists were fond of looking for “correspondences” between the external world and the inner world, between say the weather and one’s emotions. As I sit working on the last revisions to my dissertation (I have the week off), such connections seem pretty clear. It’s a cold, rainy march day, drab above and below. The snow has melted but nothing has sprouted to give the landscape much sign of life.

Likewise, the PhD program has hung over my life like a long winter. I have survived, even thrived at times, but in generally it often feels like life has been stunted by this extended season.

From my window I look at the purple three-flat across the street with the porch that was left half finished in the fall, as if they just decided let it dangle until spring. In our yard, sections of the fence stand in disrepair, or don’t stand at all, because we didn’t get them fixed in the fall as we hoped. These remind me of all the unfinished business I’ve accumulated over the years, all the things that I’ve been putting off “until the dissertation is done.”

After four days of stewing in my own words, I’m craving a taste of someone elses’s for a change. It’s hard to cook up a fresh thought when you have to keep thawing out and reheating material that was first collected many years ago.

But I can see the end now, and I’m trying to enjoy the unique moment that I find myself in. I don’t have to shower or leave the house or socialize. I don’t have to care about anything else or wonder what its all about. All that’s in lock-down now, and all that exists is the job of finishing this thing. It’s a luxury, and I’m thankful to have the space to see it through.

This afternoon I’m glad for the correspondence between my inner state and the external world, because it means that spring will be cued to arrive at just the right time to greet the conclusion of the dissertation and my graduation. It’s hard to imagine what this next phase in my life will be like, but I’m sure it will feel a lot like spring for a while.

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