People ask me when I am going to be finished my phd.
How long is a piece of string, is usually my response.
I’m not being glib, I just don’t know.
I know it’s taking longer than I thought. I know it’s taking longer than I’d like. I know it’s taking longer than I hoped.
But the PhD is like looking for treasure without a map. Each step has to be worked out – and you end up backtracking a lot.
But I have recently understood another dimension.
I could put in more hours, for sure. But actually my progress is limited by something unanticipated.
I can only move at the ‘speed of thinking.’
By this I mean that it’s actually all the hours and days that fall between my periods of sitting in my seat actively working on it, as my subconscious chews away at it, that the real thinking takes place.
The micro flashes that come while brushing my teeth or shopping for groceries are the real ‘next step discoveries’ as my brain slots another piece of the puzzle into place.
Of course, this is followed by a period of graft to enact and explore and ‘write up’ that idea, but the thing that can’t be rushed is that process of passive thinking.
That’s why I now understand I am progressing at the ‘speed of thinking’ and I need to be supremely patient with that process.
Maybe it’s time to recognise that most of the time my ‘speed of thinking’ is in a school zone and is therefore deliberately slow… and that to rush it brings the risk of peril, which in this case would be the absence of thought. Form with no substances. Ethos and Logos with no Pathos.
Or otherwise known as sh*t. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not get a PhD.
The ‘speed of thinking’ designates its own speed limits. My job is to follow it.
In what way is your practice constrained? What’s the rhythm you have to work to in your work? Leave me a comment below.