I met Practice on the bus but plummed for Theory

Joan O'Donnell
ILLUMINATION
Published in
3 min readDec 10, 2023

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Woman holding big text over her face
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

I met him at the bus stop. I haven’t seen him in 12 years or so but he hasn’t aged a day. Standing erect and commanding the authority of a bus company owner as he ushers the tourist contingent about, putting them on the right bus, ever the Big man, gracious and commanding. We are both heading back to Dublin: he after chairing a conference and I after a week of solitary confinement write up my PhD. We established contact and pin the date of our last encounter to a governmental committee he chaired, and I sat on as a Community Service Organisation (CSO) representative, which crumbled to dust amidst mistrust and ire. The Troika was in town. Tensions were high. Between the government officials being accused of getting on with their jobs without consulting the committee and the CSO reps being deferential, he, the chair, resigned in a state of agitation. We listened to him agitate for some time, and I wondered what the job description of an independent chair might look like. And how many years you would have to work in order to retire, in order to get one, and then resign?

As we got on the bus we discussed the ill-advisement of embarking on a PhD as a way to spend one’s limited time on this earth. And amidst a flurry of jazz hands, he told me not once but twice, that though he had done some prep work and planned on doing one, he pulled back: “I am a practitioner” he…

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