This has been a momentous week. While on vacation with friends Amanda and Jenny, I had a few moments where I was thinking about all the things I need to get done, and how was I going to get all those things done, and when was I going to get all those things done, and why I needed to get all those things done. This is what happens when you are in academia. You carry all of “those things” around in your head with you, so that you are never entirely free from your research, your work, the logistics of your research, the logistics of your work. Actually, this sort of syndrome afflicts many people, not just those in academia (i.e. my mother….thanks, mom!). But I think this thinking about things is especially aggravated whilst you’re in academia, because this is truly not a 9-5 kind of job; you really do carry your work with you wherever you go. And when you’re on a momentous vacation, it’s not like you can do ANY of those things, unless it involves buying gifts for people or body boarding of your language consultant’s behalf or getting attacked by evil monkeys to gain strength for moving to a village where there may or may not be monkeys. In my case, it was only the first thing that I could do, and all the rest of “those things” had to wait for this week that I have been in Yogyakarta. While on vacation, I realized that I should just stop thinking about “those momentous things” and continue lying on the beach in my bikini and thinking about the hot sun and the clouds and the sky and how beautiful the momentous sun is, because the only parts of my body that will be seeing the sun in the near future are (1) my ankles, and maybe my calves, if I’m just around my neighbourhood (2) my hands and wrists, and (3) my face. So I enjoyed feeling momentously naked and reapplied the sunscreen.
Then, back in Yogya, it was a hectic week trying to fit everything in not only for getting “those things” done (momentous meeting with supervisors, preparing for meetings with supervisors, following up meetings with supervisors, downloading articles and important documents while I still have fast internet at home, making sure all my electronic equipment works) and also getting the personal things done. Momentous personal things involved going for a bike ride beside the rice paddies and salak orchards, going climbing on the wall at UGM, going for a run around the UGM Graha building because I’m not even sure I’ll be able to do any of these sports while I’m in Paciran. And of course, seeing friends!
And in between all these momentous activities, I was thinking about all the momentous things I have yet to do, and the momentous move to Paciran and how I have to get used to a new place, try to understand a their culture and toe the line so I don’t offend anyone, find new friends, find a research assistant, get amazing data and record it all and transcribe it and start analyzing, and do this all in 5 months. And so I had a momentous headache and not very momentous sleeps. Then the nature of many of these thoughts became of the form “And what if…” and I started thinking in “what if” worlds. What if I had just gone to the village first instead of spending time in Yogyakarta first? What if I can’t handle the culture/religious situation? What if I don’t find a research assistant who (a) is a girl, (b) can speak decent English, and (c) is computer-literate? What if I don’t get enough data? What if my dissertation sucks?
Then, after a lengthy discussion with the parents, I understood that not everything gets done in one afternoon, or one day, or even one week; I just have to think of things one at a time. It seems I need to remind myself of this point fairly often. I was also reminded again of the momentous fact that we don’t live in “what if” worlds. We can’t change the past, and we can’t know the future, so why not just live in the present? After all, it’s a gift. Ha. Ha. (I hope you got my momentous pun.) Well, the decisions we make today definitely have consequences for the future…but we still can’t know everything. So one day at a time.
Tomorrow I make the momentous move to Paciran. I’m taking a momentous overnight train to Surabaya, and then a momentous bus to Paciran (the momentous bus may be more like a taxi and then a bus and then a mini bus and then an ojek). I will then most likely take a nap, which may or may not be momentous. Let another (momentous) adventure begin!