Happier Thoughts, Mary and the Witch’s Flower

So yesterday was awful, but today things are looking brighter. It’s one thing I hate about the current state of my mind. Everything can fluctuate so wildly, and to such extremes. It’s been happening for a while now, at least a few years, and I’m usually able to live with it relatively well, but sometimes like last night it really punishes me.

Today started off with me arriving to see that my supervisor, having returned from leave yesterday, is able to meet me tomorrow morning. That’s good, but it also means I need to get all my shit together for the review, fill in the newly sent data request form, and most importantly, actually get up in time for this meeting. I have done most of the first item on this list and I think I have a draft of the second lying around my USB somewhere. The third will be the most challenging as I woke up a mere 40 minutes before the meeting start time today, and it takes longer than that time alone for me to reach my department after leaving the house as it’s so fucking far. I will actually have to set an alarm for tomorrow and that’s never fun, I always find it so much harder to get up when I am forced. That being said I have developed a habit of naturally beating my alarm so hopefully that will continue, it has been a while since I’ve needed to test this. I know what I’m going to say in this meeting re: the old supervisor, and so hopefully everything will work out fine 🙂

I’ve had a few chores to do in town and have had absolutely no motivation to do them as it’s just effort, but I was telling friend A about an amazing Japanese bakery in town the other day, and we realised that using a trip there as motivation to actually go there and do things was a very good idea. It worked! And I had a very yummy yuzu cake.

The last thing I did was attend a preview showing of the anime film Mary and the Witch’s Flower with some friends from archery, and we got a free art print of Mary! It was made by people who left Studio Ghibli, as they wanted to continue making movies, and a Ghibli influence is definitely present. The story was very nice, and the artwork was beautiful. I don’t know how widely released it has been outside of Japan so won’t go into too much detail about the plot for fear of spoilers, but it is most definitely worth watching. I really enjoyed it, and one of my friends said it was the most engrossed she had got in a movie for a while. I would recommend if you want to introduce a friend to anime, a movie is probably a very good place to start, as there is a lot even a non-anime fan can appreciate. Friend A would like to try watching anime at some point soon, I am planning to make some suggestions for him after exams, but perhaps I will see if I can get him to watch Your Name with me one evening, or go to the regular showing of Mary and the Witch’s Flower when it comes out in May.

Before the actual movie started, we got to see some clips of interviews with two of the film’s creators. They discussed the conception of their studio, the movie, character design, and message. I don’t know how much of the latter I would necessarily have picked up on myself, but the basic message is that you do have the power to change things yourself, you just need to take that first step yourself. Mary finds herself in a strange place, without the same capabilities of those around her, but instead of letting that get her down and give up, she steps forward, and fights. It’s something that resonated with me and my current situation, and it made me realise that, while I have been dealt an awful hand so far in my PhD, I can change things myself. I have the opportunity on Monday to re-direct my project, I have the tools to write a draft manuscript (pending some results being finalised) to be submitted for publication, I have the ability to search for training courses and conferences that I want to attend and which can help me. So that’s what I’m going to spend the rest of my evening doing.

This has come at a perfect time for me too: no longer am I worried about turning friend A into a sponge for tears when I see him tomorrow. Instead, I have the rare feeling of motivation for my PhD, to do something and take that step forward to make my situation better. Who knows, maybe I can end up like Mary, saved from a relatively quiet and dull week and catapulted into something interesting and exciting? I actually have genuine hope that this will be the case, and I’m looking forward to getting started!

Will it last forever; will I finally be out of the pit of PhD despair? Who knows, but for the first time I can see a light ahead of me, and I’m going to be trying my best to reach it.

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