Happy Face (Sad Face)

I’m getting to that place in my dissertation life that’s getting scary–like all things that are a process I’m watching everyone I know and whose progress I used as a compass and measuring stick for my own get the check-mark we’re all working towards.  And it usually makes me happy first.  I know the grind and the pain (and this sounds melodramatic but, I assure you, it’s not) of getting these advanced degrees.  Listen, when you start talking about it as a relationship, it’s going to be emotional…and it is.  And so my heart is very, very happy for my friends, both now and those from another lifetime, who are finishing the race.  They’ve beaten the odds in some cases.  They’ve run the good race.  They didn’t quit even when they wanted to…and now, they’re done.

And then I get sad.  And then I get angry.

I suppose the fuel is good.  I should be looking for things to “light a fire” and give me that little punch that I need.  But I’m just far enough away that I have a hard time seeing anything except for the long, open road.  No racers in front of me anymore.  In fact, some have stormed from behind me and have gone on to finish well ahead of the time anyone expected for them.  Ahead of the time I expected for myself.  And while I deal with the perceived failure of that,  I’m still here, peddling away; my ass is getting sore and I need some air in the tires.  And there’s just a long, snaky road through the desert.  And me.

There once was a time when I considered quitting the race…but that time has come and gone.  It’s actually a shorter distance to the finish and this isn’t the kind of race that you “step off” somewhere inbetwixt.  You either go forward or you go back…and there’s no turning around.  It’s just a matter of how many times you want to be passed by others while you’re walking this goddamned bicycle.

I’m happy for the racers who have already taken their showers and are sitting down to their well-deserved meals and celebratory drinks.  But I’m still pedaling uphill and it’s gettin’ on toward dusk and it’s time for me to just put my head down and ride…and not think too much about the celebration waiting for me at the end.

I’ll join you all when I get there.

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