What DO we do, when we don’t know what to do?

What DO we do, when we don’t know what to do?

I don’t know

I guess that in a PhD process, as in other situations, pieces will typically start falling into place at the end of the process, not at the beginning. My misfortune is that I am at the beginning now.


COS Conference 2017

After having interviewed twelve or thirteen people last three weeks, to shed a light on the adequacy of my research question (that is the concept of it I had at that moment), I was falling to pieces myself. Everyone consulted had his or her own beautiful, constructive angle and I was left with a dozen perspectives that I could not possibly combine into a whole. This was the mess I was in, in the middle of October when I visited COS conference in Noordwijk (https://www.cos-collective.com/cos-conferences/).

The title of the conference “What do we DO, when we don’t know what to do?” was a bit of a mystery but in a way also reassuring. Apparently I was not alone in this chaos and the question was not only for me to solve. I will always remember the four beautiful days that followed as an unprecedented and wonderful experience. Seventy-five participants from all over the world shared their hesitations, fears, nervous laughter, stuttering; their stumbling and falling. We tried to develop and exchange new ways of coping with the uncertainty of the post religious era we are in; with the wars, contradictions and confusion that go hand in hand with it. It was a joint search for methods through words, drawings, meditation, dance, gestures, practices of genuine contact and changing our conversations. Sandra Janoff pointed out four great principles: (1) get the whole system in the room; (2) explore the whole (elephant) before start acting on a part; (3) focus on the future and on common ground, and (4) let people take responsibility for their actions.

Additionally we found out: “We don’t need to connect. We need to remember that we are already connected” (because we tend to forget).

Take time to see

So I took a great deal of wisdom, warmth and wise guidance from my COS friends out of the conference. I will carry on with my interviews and exploration of my research question. I will trust that my PhD will fall into place and that it needs time to do so. In uncertainty, I want to keep listening closely to myself, take time, feel connection and use it. I will slowly become aware of the clues and patterns that may always have been there, now for me to see.

  • Tonnie van der Zouwen
    Posted at 11:29h, 25 October Reply

    Beautifully said Ineke. Thank you for being part of this collective journey. Walk strong and tall, as you are meant to be.

  • Frans Duurland
    Posted at 12:12h, 25 October Reply

    What a nice brief summary!

  • Michelle Holmes
    Posted at 16:35h, 25 October Reply

    Thank you. So glad you were there.

  • Doris Gottlieb
    Posted at 18:11h, 25 October Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful summary dear Ineke!

  • Doris Gottlieb
    Posted at 18:12h, 25 October Reply

    I really enjoyed your perspective Ineke, thanks for posting.

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