Sunday, October 26, 2008

The King And I

I feel like Sisyphus. Each time I seem to be making progress on my dissertation proposal, something happens and I am propelled back to the beginning: a sentence uttered by my adviser; an article pointing the emphasis in a different direction; a drop a self-doubt pelting down on my research question from the looming dark cloud of methodological uncertainty above.

This past week, it was illness. At first, I ran my errands like a trouper, resisting the idea that an eight-mile-a-week runner could succumb to something so banal as a cold. When I could no longer deny the truth of my sorry state, I took to homeopathy and drowned myself in water and sleep to overcome it. I was bent on getting my rock to the very top of the hill.

By day three, I declared myself well and took to reading again. At first, my goal was to complete two articles and perhaps parts of a book. By late afternoon, my hopes dwindled down to merely one article. It took me the entire day and all the energy I could muster up, but I finished it. Truth be told, I think it finished me.

Today is day five. By now, I should have tackled the theory and the methodology readings that I have piled up beside me. But here they sit, untouched. Books and articles that wonder why I torture them with the bright desk light into the early morning hours without bothering to read them. Books and articles that stare at me with bitter silence, hurling unheard accusations that cut to the very core of my demotivated being.

Sisyphus \ˈsi-sə-fəs\
: a legendary king of Corinth condemned eternally to repeat the cycle of rolling a heavy rock up a hill in Hades only to have it roll down again as it nears the top.
[Mirriam-Webster's Online Dictionary]

It has not been a good week. My rock feels like it is at the very bottom of the hill, or at best, immobile. But I will arise, just as Sisyphus does. Tomorrow will be another day, and the day after that will be yet another tomorrow. One day, the king of Corinth will find his redemption. And one day, I too, will find mine. But for now, we sigh our sighs, and we begin again.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Normally, I would write you the most motivating, cheery message, but as you know I am not much in a happy frame of mind myself. Sometimes I think unlike Sisyphus, we take these rocks up by ourselves, and of course if we are going to commit to a rock, it needs to be the biggest and roundest of them all so that it stands out enough.

Scholar Wannabe said...

I feel your pain, LD. I totally feel your pain. *deep sigh*

Lonely Dissertator said...

Heather: my response to your post must have come across as a downer! :-( Sorry about that. I was not thinking. Biggest and roundest... yes. If only I picked a rock the size of a baseball.

SW: You do? You? :-)