Phantoms of Mind
Melbourne city looks unusually wet today. Sitting in front of my computer, I can see tears of falling raindrops and cries of gloomy clouds looming over the Eureka Tower, sending the inevitable message that it’s that time of the year again when maple leaves finally set off the naked trees, forcing the Melburnians to be warmly wrapped up in their thick winter accessories, leaving everyone’s nose cold and congested to deal with their own winter misery. With days getting shorter and nights getting longer, people dream again of their hot summer days to survive yet another funny joke of Mother Nature.
But Melbourne is forever locked in its charms no matter what seasons it may have to endure. These charms, in all their glory and melancholy, have loyally accompanied me for the past few years, witnessing the endless struggle that has been both exciting and excruciating. Four years have gone by since I first started embarking on this great adventure in Melbourne and I am still doing it right now, scratching hard every bit and piece of what’s left to make sure that I will finish this wild mission of mine that I started on my own. My hard work, quite expectedly, has reached the point where someone needs to pull me back to reality and slap me real hard to get back to the real functioning world. How did I get this far? Estrangement. Alienation. Madness. Solitude. Loneliness.
It’s right here and here. Writing the longest and loneliest document I have ever written called a PhD thesis is the most daunting experience in my life history. The last six months have been particularly challenging, the high time when PhD is indeed taking its most serious toll on my life, the Dark Age when everything else seems irrelevant but my own “godly” thesis. Long hours of keyboard-dancing and mouse-clicking have reduced my whole existence into thesis writing and nothing else. Long months of editing and rewriting and reorganizing and reconnecting have turned me into a Slave of Mind that lives the world in its void and eternal blankness. I’m drowning in the seas of stoic ideas that are timeless and endless. My mind is filled with all kinds of strange phantoms that keep appearing from all sorts of directions, past, present and future; they are telling me to keep cool and keep going with my crazy definitions of Persistence, Determination and Passion I have been rambling about for many years.
But amidst all this ambiguity, I can see the light reaching for me. Right there and there. This blurry world of mine will definitely materialize in a permanently bounded thesis that will leave the biggest imprint of my dream. I can already see the road leading me there, bright and clear like the tiny raindrops splattering in my bedroom window. The sweet sounds are as audible as the sound of a humming oil-heater in my apartment. It certainly will. In just a matter of weeks, I can see myself standing tall and delivering my much-dreaded completion talk, submitting my 100,000 word thesis, leaving the beautiful Melbourne for good, and starting my academic career again in Malaysia. It’s all nicely mapped out for me, like the pattern of changing seasons each year, like a railway route from a station to the next station. The next big things are, without doubt, are on their ways for me out there. These past and future roads are now gradually converging together into a single road that will lead me to the greater world. These dreams and realities are coming together with all the clarity and certainty of statistical findings. Am I ready?
Yes, the life I’m living is full of free spirits that keep my mind and soul in its pure sanity. The thoughts and prayers from family and friends are sitting next to me while I’m lost in this sad world of mine looking for the next sentence to express the next big discovery of my research. I’m thankful. This river of Passion is still flowing and I’m savoring each current no matter how stormy or revengeful it may turn out. Right now, I can feel the mixture of feelings, the excitement of another chapter in life, the dread of society’s expectations, the nervousness of a new bold man as he is getting ready to venture into a whole new challenging world. It is that high and low feeling again. Just like the day when Airis was born.