I’m maybe half way through the doctorate at the moment, and pausing for breath: i’ve refrained from sharing too much information as i make this journey, largely as all i would have been saying is ‘this is what i’m sure about’, whereas my challenge has been to move into curiosity and doubt.
This morning i was thinking about this in terms of erosion: holding our certainty as a rock, layered with different strata, some more durable than others, and all the while, the water cascading over it. Erosion is a slow but inexorable process, and the last six months have felt a little like that (although in this case i’ve had to not only hold the rock, but seek out the water).
I used the first three months of the programme simply to write, which is the thing i’m most comfortable with: partly to generate some content, but largely to reassure myself that i had a foundation, from which i could step off. I needed a sense of certainty and stability before moving into a more fractured space.
Latterly i’ve been trying to use my practice as a mechanism for uncertainty: to prototype new language and ways of thinking and looking at the systems that i study.
In June i explored ‘The Shadows that we Cast’, a landscape of the Quiet Leadership work, and this month the ‘London Dereliction Walk’, as a consideration of ‘boundaries – voice – shadows’. Both of these things expand the notions of trans-disciplinary practice, and #WorkingOutLoud that sit at the heart of my research, as well as the lenses of exploration, art and writing, which i’m using to look through. Lenses to distort my certainty.
For 18 months or so i’ve been using the ‘Social Leadership Daily’ space to consider what it means to be ‘in our practice’, and it’s something of the learning from that which i am carrying into the current exploration.
You can probably see why i’m not writing much about this: it’s incoherent, indeed it intentionally lacks coherence.
The problem is that i can probably make sense of it if i try: i’m quite sure i can write a compelling excuse or reasoning. But that is not the point. The point is to stay in the open space, to allow the water to flow around me, to be weathered by it. And to notice what remains and what is washed away.
Some years ago i wrote that we find simplicity through complexity: it’s on the other side, and i guess that something of that thinking remains in my today. I don’t specifically need to doctorate to be complex: rather i need to find the right type of simplicity. A weathered form of knowledge, carved out of my practice.
For now i intend to keep moving between the conceptual and intellectual, into practice, and through community and discussion. Later this year, in a month or two, i will start expanding again on the written work. Trying to trace the contours, find the patterns, and perhaps seek the wisdom.
This is a visceral process, deeply unsettling. More so than the usual uncertainty of writing, not least because of the incoherence of exploration, which makes it impossible to articulate, in a world that judges us for confidence and clarity.