I’ve decided graduate school is about finding sanity, even if it means going a little nuts in the process. I question whether or not to trust my sanity, whether or not to trust my creativity, and whether or not to trust my intellect (or lack thereof). Identity/autonomy is a revolving door here. It feels as though almost every week a new boundary is crossed or a new logical stake is claimed. Personal needs and interests announce themselves as marcato accents, and dissolve just as quickly as they arrive – always before they’re seen to.
Trusting in creativity is probably something a lot of people have trouble with. I imagine there are a billion people out there, like me that have ideas up the wazoo. The creative energy that belts out the ideas ends up being spent on “important things” – whatever that might mean. Consequently more than ever I see the connection in every reading assignment and task – everything seems important, something I need to know before I can take another step. No longer are there days when I feel as though a ‘homework’ assignment is mundane or ineffectual. Though I’m sure it won’t last forever, it’s quite refreshing. Creativity though, this is an odd little character in my life. I have this desk drawer [literally] full of ideas and it makes me feel erratic when I open it to look at them (or to throw another one in); erratic because I’m always feeling stuck or blocked and every idea has this ounce of hope within it as if it’s the key to pulling free from that stuck feeling. Yet generally, for now, they stay there in their comfortable nest-of-a-drawer. I nod my head in acknowledgment toward the stuck feeling, knowing that one day I’ll grant myself some sort of creative license to work with those ideas.
Self-doubt comes into play here. Regardless of the idea that arises, this little voice in my head is always saving it for someone else who will come along to do “it” better than I would, or that I’d do “it” wrong altogether. I’d be much better as a consultant to a company than a CEO, or a songwriter instead of a performer. I imagine sometimes that there’s this little nova-looking bright spot in my head that would allow me to take on a host of projects and go with it, but I can’t ever seem to find it. I know this probably all sounds a bit angsty, however self-reflection is a big reason why this space exists for me.
One of my biggest issues with academia is the constant barrier we’re all told to hide behind: don’t show your true selves – it won’t get you the job. It will bite you in the ass eventually (think Malinowki’s diary). That’s of course why we’re told not to blog in the first place, or even to have a facebook account. If I’m going to do this – go through with this entire process – it’s going to be on reflective [and reflexive] grounds. I have no intention of dangling the ‘me’ outside of the research box altogether, as so many people do. The various aspects of my identity will have to tag along to everything I do in different shapes and sizes. Knowing the time and place for it to seep through, and other methodological decisions will have to be made as they arise. I’m confident that I’ll know what to do, and that my own ethics will steer. Currently, one of my professors is in China doing fieldwork. He brought his entire family – thus, they become part of the process. Likewise with Rob Baker in West Africa, whose blog I’ve been following for ages. There are a lot of excellent role models out there, and so much has been written. I just have to dig through it all and carve out my own path.
One thing’s for sure – I’m finally in a place where I feel as though I can unleash whatever’s thrown at me. That alone has caused some of the blockage to be chipped away. Instead of being surrounded by skeptical friends and professors, I’m surrounded by like-minded musicologists with their own pool of creativity, and brilliant professors who stretch my synapses with every sentence that comes out of their mouths. It’s a hell of a lot more painful to be blocked with a drawer full of ideas than to pick one and start chipping away at it. That’s the next step.