In her poem “What we want” Mary Oliver writes:
In a poem
but even more
they want something
easy to swallow—
not unlike a suddenly
in an otherwise
difficult and sometimes dissonant
even if it is only
for the moment
of hearing it.
This has become both one of my favorite poems, and my favorite concepts: the inexplicable made plain. Oliver writes of poetry, but isn’t this (shouldn’t this) be the goal of science as well?
Science is complicated; but only in so much as we strive to dissect parts of the natural world independently, and often fail to put the pieces back together again. It is in the putting back together that we ‘make plain’ the essence of nature, where we as storytellers are obligated to share with the world what we have uncovered. It is what I strive to do in my work professionally, and personally.
So, with that prelude, I invite you all to attend (virtually or in the flesh) my dissertation defense. On almost exactly the ten year anniversary of when I began studying humpback whales in Southeast Alaska I will present my doctoral dissertation. It will be technical (for me to pass it must be), but I will also make every effort to tell the story of my work once I have explained the pieces.
After? We will celebrate. I will hike with my pups (as I do most days). I will begin a new story…. but more on that to come.