Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Metaphor for Doctoral Candidacy

Twenty eight days. A short time and a long time for writing a candidacy paper. A metaphor would be helpful I believe in describing that period for synthesizing my thoughts about the candidacy question and writing the paper. Previously I gave the doctoral journey the metaphor of being lost in the rainforest. It is, in some ways, an incredibly enriching experience but I also worried that I would be lost in the thick of the rainforest forever by taking too much time to “study” or “read” when I should in fact be moving forward with a plan to find my way out into the open again. I knew it had to be a balance of experiencing the exquisite richness of the opportunity while not staying to sample too much. My brain has been in overdrive during this process as I read and studied deeply every article or chapter that would help me frame my thinking.

Moving into the candidacy period, I was tossed in the river to complete white water rafting without a guide since I was not permitted to seek advice during this time. My life jacket would be the background reading and papers I have written and the paddles my ability to think and write as each day passed. Yes, I have some experience (through my course work and writing) so I could manage to take on the rapids but I really needed to be attentive to successfully manoeuvre myself down the river without crashing or capsizing. The raft was moving quickly and I knew there was little opportunity to rest. There were moments in the journey where the rapids were only level one or two but at times much higher. I had to decide whether to take the raft through one section or another so constantly reviewing and editing. As the time tumbled so did my raft. Finally at day twenty eight I came into a calm section. It’s not the end of the journey since the candidacy oral, the research process and the dissertation lay ahead but for the moment I can rest a little and calmly paddle without the continuous pressure of managing the rapids.