Earlier this summer I received a text message from my close friend, on the morning she was supposed to leave for a road trip in New York State. She wrote to me saying that her partner lost his passport, and they decided to drive up to Newfoundland instead.
I could imagine the scene: Andrea and Louis looking through every drawer, on every shelf, and under every piece of furniture in the apartment looking for the single item that would allow them to leave on their much anticipated and well deserved vacation. Their car was already packed with tents, sleeping bags, and many overpriced, miniature versions of household items found in outdoorsy stores. They had unplugged their electronics and set up an “away from my mail” response to their emails. They had a plan.
I found myself in a similar situation last spring, when my dissertation committee decided that I would have to start my project from scratch. I originally had a “flawless” plan: apply for the pre-doctoral internship this fall, write-up in the spring, and graduate by summer 2015. Unfortunately, a 200-page document and five committee members stood firmly between my dream and I.
I instantly switched to problem-solving mode: reading articles, talking with colleagues, drafting research ideas, and writing new proposals. I was so preoccupied trying to salvage my project and clinging onto my original plan, that I ignored other responsibilities, such as sleep and maintaining whatever is left of my sanity.
Although a dissertation is slightly heavier than a Canadian passport, getting either involves an agonizing amount of time, paper work, and money. Both involve changes to the original plan.
Having known Andrea for almost a decade, I can imagine the turnaround when it became clear that Louis’ passport was nowhere to be found. She was likely looking feverishly through his messy desk before throwing her arms up in air and saying something along the lines of “Okay Louis, that’s enough. So we are not going to New York this year, but I am not wasting my 10 days vacation. Get in car, we are driving to Newfoundland.”
Bam! That was it. They drove on, had a wonderful trip, and ate delicious lobster.
I knew I had to do the same: accept the loss and the new direction I was facing. I had to accept that my plans changed and that I will be spending an additional year in graduate school.
Then I came across this piece of online wisdom:
I have moved on. The new plan is to eat healthier so that I live an extra year and make up for the additional one I am spending in graduate school. I will also eat lobster.
Speaking with Andrea about this post, she informed me that Louis recently found his passport, tucked between the pages of a dictionary. It looks like they will make it to New York after all.