Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ashes to...Top 3 Student?

So yesterday I got this delightful email declaring one of the conference papers I'm giving at the International Communication Association (ICA) conference in May has been awarded the status of one of the Top 3 Student Papers for the Mass Communication division. (One that I'd revised and sent off during that NaWriMo experiment last November.)

It was a surreal moment--here I was, sitting in a classroom a few minutes before the beginning of a grad class in which we were to discuss a cognitive view of how metaphors work. I was tired from the cold or allergies I've been fighting and mildly aware of the cross-shaped smudge of ashes on my forehead from the noon service I'd been to. I was feeling a bit ashes-like, particularly since I was trying to resist the delicious-looking chocolate cookies a lovely friend (who hadn't been aware I'd decided to give up chocolate for Lent) had just handed me.

And then I checked my email on my laptop, and there was this email telling me that I'd won this award, and I won't lie to you: I felt a bit less ashes-like for the moment. After all, beyond the fact that this would be seen to be a bit of a big deal in my discipline, it was encouraging that I was on the right track with my dissertation, since this was the first paper I'd sent anywhere outlining some preliminary thoughts in that direction.

So I was happy. And don't get me wrong--I still am. But on reflection I realize (the cold/allergies have been helping with this) that I am no less ashes than I was before. Sure, it's a cool thing and all, and I'm pleased that people like the paper, but I'm considering the award in the nature of a really cool gift rather than as something I somehow earned. (As Eliot says in Four Quartets, "For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.")

Which in turn creates the delightfully convoluted metaphor of me being a bundle of really excited ashes sitting under the Christmas tree (in February, no less) unwrapping this gift of this certificate I'll be handed in a few months.

It may be convoluted, but it feels just right.


rilla said...

That's excellent, Deb! I'm really proud of you.

Deborah Leiter said...

Thanks, Ril! That means a lot.