We’ve been melting for years.
I started work as an academic over 10 years ago as a 5ft 10-inch woman. I’ve always stood quite tall, this was particularly noticeable as I was growing up with many shorter friends. Sadly I learnt to develop a collapsible spring in my back so I could slinky away if I needed to blend in.
As my years caught up with my height I stood tall in other ways; standing above started to mean aiming high and ‘doing my own thing’ rather than following the crowd. Don’t get me wrong I’m a good crowd follower too, it’s just I got used to asking what was ahead and whose head was I following.
I journeyed into academia with a proud naïveté; it’s very exciting to be following heads that have spent so much time developing, and to consider that one day my head might also start paving ways.
Paving ways with a head can be quite exhausting, and rather abusive. First of all we need to make the head heavy enough for it to fall from the shoulders, this can usually be achieved by filling it with lots of ‘stuff’, some stuff is really good to know, it’s the kind of stuff that sees heads cut above the rest. These heads can look out and check that there is clear weather ahead, monitor storms and take the lead around or through. Then there’s the other stuff that sits at the front and weighs the head down towards the floor. It’s the stuff that usually comes with ineffectiveness and insecurity, the head slinks down in order that the eyes can concentrate on paving the way, although due to excessive weight the head can only concentrate on not tripping over.
There is another head that can leave the body entirely; this head begins by looking around, raising the head above, assessing the area and…drifting off. This head would be great for academia if only the body was able to follow.
It’s very difficult to get a melting body to follow a head ahead. There’s this lag that happens when a body starts melting and the effect of this is determined by the speed that the body melts. A slow dripper for example can keep the head above for quite a while, but it’s not really able to fly. The constant downward drip is rather like a leaky engine; it can keep going but it needs constantly topping up.
Topping up can be a rejuvenating experience, particularly for the body doing the topping; unfortunately some ‘toppers’ tend to ‘top’ at other bodies’ expense, leading to a top heavy and less energized collective of bodies.
The fast dripper is perhaps the melting body that has the most dynamic and paradoxical elements. The perpetual motion of the dripping lifts the head to a position in order to glimpse a view, but the effect of the mass meltdown leaves the head floating around detached and fragmented from the body. At this point the head needs to decide if it will remain connected or separate from the body.
Floating heads are okay, as long as the floating is focused flying. Flying is great, essential one would think for an academic institution, the problem is they’ve stopped giving lessons in flying. Paving still seems quite popular, but now there’re so many heads like tarmac on the road, it’s rather like a Tudor tale.
Perhaps a return to flying will help our new heads, the ones we’ve been developing, growing and nurturing to lift up, lift us all up. We have to stop putting our hands on their shoulders, we need to let them fly, we need to let them gooooooooo……