Thursday, March 13, 2014

This Kaleidoscope Life: The illusion of being in control

I really like the kaleidoscope.  You look through a small hole, uncertain of what you’ll find.  When you have good lighting, you find a burst of colorful patterns that reveal themselves when you turn the end of the cylinder.  Before the colors settle into a pattern, there’s momentary chaos as each bead finds its place. With each turn, a new pattern is revealed, and each one is as geometrically perfect as the last. 

This is how I’ve come to think of our upcoming trip.  The field site for my dissertation research is in the Dominican Republic.  I will live there for a year while conducting an ethnography of a batey (a community where many people of Haitian descent live).  My husband and children will come with me.  In order to make this happen, there are several pieces that must fall into place, and many of these pieces will remain unresolved until we arrive in the country. 

It has taken a long time for me to get comfortable with the idea that I cannot control every aspect of this trip (or my life, for that matter).  I’m still not entirely comfortable with it.  But the truth is: control is an illusion.  We make thoughtful decisions and set strategic goals, but whether they happen or not is often out of our realm of control.  Call it serendipity, good timing, or divine intervention, but here’s what I think: we make our plans, wait for life’s response, then make modified plans. 

So, my project had good lighting.  I could see the burst of color and possibility for amazing patterns and exciting results.  I started to make plans and turn the cylinder.  Uncertainty. Perfection.  Chaos. Beauty.  Doubt.  Confirmation.  I think I’m starting to see a pattern…


  1. What a beautifully honest piece. Can't wait to read more of your writing in the coming year!

  2. Whew hooo - this is so awesome! I'm so proud of you and will be following your blog so I can stay updated about your adventures and research!!!