Postcard from the road

It has been a while since I’ve had the time or presence of mind to post anything on PatternWhichConnects, mostly because of the busyness of changing places and finishing up my thesis. It seems like most other things in my life were on hold during the last months of writing when the physical and mental fatigue really began taking its toll. On July 21st I had the strange and unfulfilling experience of submitting nearly four years of work in the form of two print copies of the thesis. Two days later I took the train two Wales and set off on a three week hike along the Welsh and Irish west coasts.

That already seems like a long time ago. Sitting back at my desk in Berlin after two months on the British Isles all could well be the same were it not for the absence of the PhD-pull on my attention. The first days of walking in Pembrokeshire were marked by an exhilerating sense of freedom and an awareness that my thoughts were speeding along the mind’s highways much faster than I intended. The habit of fast working and thinking took three days to wear off but then it was almost like the thesis never happened. I lost myself a little in the amazing views of rocks, waves and skies, finding comfort in the simplicity of the daily tasks of hiking.

It was fantastic seeing old and new friends over the summer, the conversations, walks and food shared brought both nourishment and deep appreciation. A reminder that our relations is what makes a life! I was grateful to find support for the general lines of thought and arguments in my work and I look forward to being able to share some of it once I’ve had the viva in mid-October. The next months will be a re-orientation and a shift to a new path. What path I am not quite sure but I do know that I want it to grow from the friendships and collaborations that have developed over the last years.

What has surprised and fascinated me during these last years is the creativity and subtle power that flows from doing things together and this is something I want to explore further. Together, things that seem hard, impossible or even inconceivable become a lot easier. And so it seems to me that finding ways to complement each others’ skills and knowledges and helping each other along with an idea, a project, or aspect of life is one of the most fulfilling things to do right now. A recent example is a collaboration with Emily Wilkinson in which the imagery I used in one of my blog posts morphed into a ‘filmpoem’ through a series of conversations, reflections and works.

The filmpoem itself was just a by-product of this collaboration which brought new insights and skills to both of us (we have written some reflections on the working process here). ‘Lines of flight’ is about journeying and finding a sense of belonging in a time of uncertainty and change. With no PhD and no job that holds a lot of this latest turn in my life.

The next weeks will roll on quickly as I’m going back to London tomorrow for the Royal Geographical Society conference and then on to Leipzig next week for the Degrowth conference 2014. Once this last part of the summer travels is over, I’ll begin settling in to post-PhD life and work through some of the new questions that have emerged over these last months. One of the projects I’ll return to is Concentric Dialogue, a kind of open conversation without an agenda to which you are cordially invited. Hope to see you here or there, and if the road takes you to Berlin don’t forget to knock on my door.

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