Friday, May 23, 2008

Life is a journey (another attempt to boost my own morale!)

It is really. We start our lives wailing and inhaling fresh oxygen into our lungs, and end it just with a release of breathe. Does it matter how old you are, how much wealth you have, how much you earn, what car you drive, what you wear or what you own?

Zilch. Nada. Nil. Zero.

Into the graves, you only bring with you the amount of good deeds you have carried out, the Imaan in yourself and the integrity you have gained. 19 years? 36 years? 38 years? 72 years? Logically, you would think that the longer you live, the longer time you'd get to perform more 'ibadah so that your days in the hereafter (which will be eternity), will be a wonderful one in heaven. Sometimes, we're lucky enough, sometimes we aren't.

In the journey, we are tempted with worldly matters: material wealth, position, human companion, and entertainment. We are often never satisfied with the little that we have, and aim for something better. An upgrade of living standards, perhaps.

It is in this journey that we are tested with various forms of trials; be it our children or other family members, our profession, or our daily innuendoes - some of which are humongous while some others relatively trivial. Nonetheless, they are ALL trials. Matters pertaining to our judgements, Imaan, patience, and wisdom are all put to test.

Comparatively speaking, for those embarking on a PhD, that too is a journey in itself. A handful complete it in less than 3 years, while many manage to get it done within the 36 months. Most, however, require an additional 6 months, 1 year, or more - to finally hand in the final draft, sit for the viva and be awarded, Doctor of Philosophy.

The question is, what is the target for one who is taking a PhD? The title "Dr"? A piece of paper? A bigger paycheque? A thesis you almost considered your life and baby? There are people who sacrifice almost everything in order to obtain a PhD; some get a divorce half-way through, some take on contraceptives to ensure there are no 'accidents' that may get in the way, while some others take on the challenge of being in isolation either for the whole period or for parts of the period in order to 'concentrate' and focus on the work. Is it all worth it?

Like life, PhD is a journey which one should travel with the people one loves. The ups and downs that come during the journey should be perservered and gone through along with family members or loved ones. The bitterness, or the tastelessness of life throughout the journey are elements that should make the candidate a better person: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is also when our Imaan is put to test. Do we succumb to the trials, drowning in sorrow and frustration? Do we get up and bounce back to fight with more determination?

My aim is to get a PhD, but not because I want the title 'Dr' before my name. It is only because I have a hunger for achievement and knowledge, and some targets were set from earlier on in my life; to be good in whatever I chose to be. It surely does not mean that if I didn't get a PhD, I am not good enough, but it's just some target I had set myself to achieve. In the field of education, I aspire to do my part for the ummah, and this has actually been my aim since my school days. I believe that with some expertise, I will be able to improve some educational aspects, especially back home.

In fact, even if I ever get a doctorate, please don't call me 'Dr'. Some say it's worth all the hard work. Others say there's nothing wrong with a little bit of respect. By all means, this is my very own personal decision and all PhD holders out there, please stick to your titles!! i have nothing against them at all. However, I think it's just like performing the Hajj - does one HAVE to carry the title 'Haj' or 'Hajjah' as a prefix? Wallahu'alam... To each their own opinion, and I stick to mine.

There are times when I feel that there are too many obstacles set on my journey of life. There are moments that I feel the drive is smooth-sailing, without traffic jams along the highway. However, at certain locations or time, the lights along the highway seem to be faulty or dimmed. It gets dark but some kind Samaritan will either tow me away or lead me with their super-neon lights to where vision is clearer. I may take a little longer to reach my destination, or I might even zoom a little where there are no speed traps. But InsyaAllah, mark my word: once a survivor, always a survivor!

Life is indeed a journey - a process, and not an end-product.


Umi Kalthum Ngah said...

Assalamualaikum warahmatullah,

Dearest D,

My own interpretation..when you decide to do PhD. then you have to be mentally prepared...very important to maintain the stamina to pull through till the last hurdle..

Told myself..Welcome to the world of emotional roller coaster ride and remember to fasten the seat belt!

Did mine part time, thus 8 years (along the way - cared for my mum who was bed-ridden as a result of stroke..then passed away after 3 yrs; myself a mum, someone asked for daughter's hand in marriage, joyous moments but deep behind your mind, feeling that something is bugging you (work and progress of course!) then grandmother the next year; till my sweet grandaughter was 2 years old when I eventually graduated August last year..(data collection alone - 4 years..cases of cancer patients, surely I cannot pray so more people may get cancer, so that my work will finish faster!) So, had to be very patient...The whole journey was such a challenge!

Hope yours will be a very fulfilling one..Insya Allah...

The real challenge is...what comes after obtaining your PhD! What sort of person have you become? Wiser? Humbled? Or arrogant? (Million dollar question...)


m said...

Since this is something I can relate to...did mine in 5 1/2 years. But didn't do a masters, despite the thought of quitting, I converted to PhD at 18th month. That was when I met hubby and with him, I learnt to relax more. Got married in the 2nd year, despite some litle warnings from my supervisor, gave birth to the first baby on the 3rd (again with more warnings), and the 2nd in the 5th year. Anyway, I was on my own and not bonded. So I planned to just continue doing what I love with some time flexibility.
To me my PhD is about doing something that I like and would do for a long time, it is a career, a hobby, a passion, and most importantly 'ibadah' all in one. I'm still doing pretty much the same thing now.
Good luck, I pray for all PhD candidates I know;).
Anyway D, we are travelling to UK next month. We may do Coventry (I just guess you are there), just wondering if I can say hi to you and the kids personally. That if you can trust a stranger that you met on the internet, if you can't it's ok!

elara said...

" There are people who sacrifice almost everything in order to obtain a PhD; some get a divorce half-way through, some take on contraceptives to ensure there are no 'accidents' that may get in the way,.."

I want to add here, some even get into EMA - for the people who are in the know, for all sort of reasons.

From my observations of PhD students (I, myself is one of them), firstly you are enthused, then you become jaded, and finally you are rushed. This is especially evident if you are studying overseas with specified duration and not-that-much financial support left.

rad said...

Everything has been said...*noddedvigorously*

I do agree with you: I dont need the title - jz call my name enough la...Dont wanna be confused with a real medical doc right?

Why did I get into 'it' in the 1st place? For my ayah who always want one of the children to be a doc! (typicalmalaymentality) I wasnt good enough (terribleaddmathresult)to enroll in medical programme thus... after so many diversions here & there - I'll get there (one of those days in future) insyaAllah.

Though, these days I'm wondering -whatever happened to me? Why it took so many years? Am I doin' enough? Am I not deserve it? When it's goin to end? *sobbingmyheartout* Helppppppp!!!!!

myheartbleeds said...

D dearie,

I give you an excerpt of Survivor by Destiny's Child:

I'm a survivor,
I'm not gonna give up,
I'm not gonna stop,
I'm gonna work harder,
I'm a survivor,
I'm gonna make it,
I will survive,
Keep on survivin'.

You're a survivor indeed! And I have not a doubt you will keep on survivin' and make it!!!!

I fact, since "life is a journey and not an end-product", I consider you are already there!!! Yes, my dear...

ephy said...

thank you for that bit of reflection on life... spot on.

ADIEJIN said...

Life is indeed a journey - a process, and not an end-product

I like this quote..very very i like

Raden Galoh said...

You have said eloquently!

I'm holding on to that too: once a survivor, always a survivor!

many years ago, someone smsed me that life is a not a destination; it is a journey. It's a calculated true.

Take care dear.

lil Happy me! said...

I like the song pointed out by K Zu- simply appropriate!

anggerik merah said...

D dear,

We are in the same thots in some part. When I started my journey..I knew that it will a life journey for me...not for title but the aim to be able to see things in different perspective. For me, title is not the aim but become one humble human being and to use brain given by Allah do dig-out a drop of knowledge from sea....

D, my journey is still continue..never I given up even with so many trial came along. I prayed to Allah that if it is mine, I know no one will take it away..

D, we are a survivor...keep going

Nadia said...

Kak D,

Some people do a PHd because kene tampung family and carik keje lain tak dpt :P (my hubby).

But I agree wholeheartedly with this entry. The Dr. title by the way I think is a Malaysian/Asian mindset, because here in the US (i don't know about UK) the title doesn't matter. In fact they don't even use it like how it's used in Malaysia.

Oh my hubby took 6 yrs to finish (it felt like forever, and yes I felt it too LOL), and without financial support (contract or loan), only with assistantship. Alhamdulillah...rizq is from Allah.

now the next struggle is : finding a job (since he has not contract beforehand).

13may said...

Life is indeed a journey - a process, and not an end-product.

Quote yg menarik :)

ummuhanissa said...


I've been a silent reader of your blog for some time...didn't know you're in the UK to do your PhD. I thought you're working there.

I've been contemplating PhD for some time...and still apprehensive. This posting really inspires me..I mean with everything you had gone thru, you are still there and carrying on.

I'm thinking...if this lady can do can I!! What am I waiting for??

Looking foward for more reflections. You're an inspiration.

al-amiNJ said...

Assalaamu'alaikum D.

Semoga cita-citamu tercapai dengan tarbiah (bimbingan) dari Rabbmu yang Ar-Rahim, Al-Alim, Al-Aziz, Al-Hakim dan Al-Ghafur.

Anonymous said...

Salam Sis D

I am in the process of getting a PhD for whatever reasons that only Allah knows best (I dont know the answer or reason, it is pre destined that I will be at this moment in a foreign land studying). I myself begins to wonder the importance of having it.

I am in Durham. If you happen to go the north east of UK, you are most welcome to drop by to my humble abode. If you trust a stranger like me, well.... might give it a try to contact me using my university email... I will give you my address and phone number later once we keep in touch.

I am on my study leave. Used to work in UTM Skudai. So, if you wonder how I might look, can go to UTM Skudai website to check me out.

If there is anything I can do to help you while in UK, just let me know.

PhD is not easy. We will be tested in various ways. Hope that you will stay positive and I pray that Allah will ease your burden and in everything that you do.