A Pilgrimage about Pilgrimage

Ok, I admit it. I’ve been neglecting my dissertation. I blamed it on life and the business of work, but now I can’t do that anymore. I had an epiphany this morning while reading Phil Cousineau’s book The Art of Pilgrimage. I need to take a hold of this dissertation as a pilgrimage in itself. While this thought isn’t particularly groundbreaking, it is something I haven’t been particularly prepared to do. I have been largely overwhelmed by the enveloping nature of this project…feeling stiffled and overwhelmed. The irony of the fact that I am attempting to undertake a pilgrimage ABOUT pilgrimage has been largely lost on me until this morning. WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?? It means that I need to allow this experience to be more than the physical acts of research and writing. I need to allow this process to speak to the deeper parts of my soul as a pilgrim.

Disneyland already does this for me. It allows me to enter a place that is at once familiar and unfamiliar. It whisks me away to exotic locales and fairylands, all the while maintaining a safe container for this experience. That “safe container” is Disney’s particular gift to the pilgrimage process. Surprise, Surprise. Most pilgrimages are not safe, comfortable places where everything is done for you and prepared by loving hands and smiling faces who anticipate your every need. Most pilgrimages require a willingness to enter a dark place, a place that is in all ways an uncomfortable, albeit not necessarily unenjoyable, experience. That fearlessness of the pilgrim’s spirit is what I have been missing. In order to be fearless, one must be willing to risk. And one must prepare.

Clearly, I have heeded the call, and I am ready to make the first step of the journey. But am I prepared? I’ve been working for almost eight months now with my talismans (a fan-freaking-tastic Mickey Mouse journal cover crocheted with love by my dear friend, and fellow Disnophile, Princess Prisca and a large pile of Disney pens). But how am I prepared, really? In order to make a soulful journey, one must invite in possibilities and be at peace with what is and what will be. It has taken me almost a year and a half to get there, but it is time to step out of the container and go.

Adventure is out there, folks!

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Filed under Reflections on the Dissertation Process

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