Yesterday’s conference was an inspiring experience. The multiple panels meant that I got to hear about the research of quite a lot of diverse speakers. My little ten minutes in front of the room also meant I felt fully part of the event. Then there were conversations over coffee with academics, a few of whom I knew, most of whom I was meeting for the first time. There was even a special presentation on environmental issues from a ten year old schoolgirl which was informative and full of positivity. Biggest kudos of the day must go to her for being willing to stand where adults had been standing, and more than holding her own in the company.
The sense of belonging I felt throughout the day is the thing I have grieved for the most since 2007 when I had to walk away from the academic life. Right now I am not filled with sorrow, I am full of joy that my ridiculous body allowed me to physically survive a whole day of activities I love without me needing to run away to my bed with bitter tears in my eyes.
My next aim is to continue thinking about and reading around the ideas I’ve had for a new thesis. If, over the next year, I can maintain focus enough and work round my physical health effectively enough to have written at least two chapters then it will be time to consider how best to approach a more formal return to academia. I am currently state dependent, something which will not change as age deteriorates my condition further. But there must be ways to continue to be supported in the way I need without it obstructing an attempt at writing a submitting a doctoral thesis as part of a faculty rather than in near isolation.
Or I’ll drop dead of hope, expectancy and terrible lungs but with a smile on my face and a quote or two on my lips.