May 8, 2018

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2.19)

Tuesday. My feet would not be touching the ground over the next few days. 8.00 am: An early start. I picked up my lunch en route to the School and, on arrival, set up the assessment room in readiness for two days of MA Vocational Practice presentations. 9.00 am: I held a Skype call with one of our PhD fine art students:

There are times when genuinely incisive realisations occur via this media. In some respects, conversations across the ether are more focussed and concentrated than when held face-to-face. Perhaps I felt the ‘Eureka’ moment more than did they, on this occasion. Satisfying.

10.00 am: The first of the presentees laid out their stall. There was an abundance of snacks. (Nerves inhibiters.) I provided biscuits:

Above our heads, throughout the day, the noise of dismantling, hammering, and 8 × 4 foot wooden panels being walked from one part of the room to another, heralded the transformation of the studios into temporary gallery spaces:

1.00 pm: A pastoral tutorial. 2.00 pm: We reconvened for the afternoon’s offering of presentation. It’d been rewarding, sitting at the feet of the students, learning from them, and admiring their grasp of the work in hand, modesty and openness, and professionalism of delivery. 4.00 pm: I caught up on the admin that was blipping my phone’s inbox all afternoon and addressed a personal matter.

7.30 pm: I needed to catch up with my exhibition MA Fine Art students, the day’s dairy, and various emails of an academic nature that could be kicked into the long-grass for the time being.

There are times when the head and the heart are locked in conflict. They cannot agree on a sensible course of action. And neither seems able to arrive at a determination that’s either workable or liveable. And whatever choice one makes on the basis of their respective opinions, brings only doubt, restlessness, and suffering. My usual expectation is that a right decision ought to feel right, if not immediately, then, eventually. When made, a sound judgement more often than not reveals its own logic, moral rectitude, necessity, and inevitability. But evidently, there are some decisions that aren’t accompanied by an emotional, ethical, and intellectual sweetener. Such a decision is often made when all the other possibilities have been explored and proved futile. It’s, in effect, the final option; the only one that has yet to be tried. And the reason why this choice is considered only as a last resort is because it’s the most unpalatable, painful, consequential, potentially permanent, and, therefore, difficult to both make and unmake.

Is there always a right choice? Are the most difficult decisions necessarily for the best? There are times when decisions are made out of desperation. Hopelessness and despair should never be the only motive for choosing. But sometimes they’re an unavoidable factor. In the battle between the head and the heart I, in the end, tend to follow the former. And so the heart is left grieving and unsatisfied. In time, the head may yet persuade the heart to relent. Making a decision is one thing; keeping to it, is quite another.*




*For Amy Seed

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