Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

DEPARTMENTS: Nursing and the Arts

Looking for My Lost Self

Park, Claire Su-Yeon MSN, RN

Editor(s): Young-Mason, Jeanine EdD, RN, CS, FAAN

Author Information
doi: 10.1097/NUR.0000000000000669
  • Free

Something hot is flowing down my cheek.

Inside this splendid hall of mirrors

—I walked in of my own accord—

I see only my empty face reflected,

and a pit.

Whose dream am I now dreaming?

A dream of my own Veritas:

You

are the reason for my scholarly existence.

Once I find You

someday,

holding the white hem of the Goddess,

awe will pour from my heart in silent euphoria.

For now, with fear and excitement

I jump into the regenerative abyss

to regain my lost self.

EXPLANATION OF WORK

Young clinical nursing scholars are often forced to research the latest trend because publication comes easier and with it, the funding. These subjects are not necessarily bad, but these budding researchers might not try to explore the problems near and dear to their hearts. Furthermore, they might not be willing to endure more difficult efforts to generate a new knowledge that would truly advance nursing practice.1 As time passes, they may be seen as successful in the eyes of those who subscribe to the “publish or perish” mentality, but they may have already lost the true purpose of their scholarly existence.1 This poem expresses those moments when scholars feel the emptiness of their current pursuits and are grieving for those lost opportunities, and highlights their own free will to regain their lost selves. It is lyrically described as the “regenerative abyss” in the last stanza, which is the essence of the poem.

With fear and excitement

I jump into the regenerative abyss

to regain my lost self.

The abyss usually has negative connotations because it is reckoned that things go in but never come out the abyss. However, “fear and excitement” expresses that the speaker of the poem is happy about this shift and is willing to accept it despite fears of the unknown.

The key to this yin-yang relationship of emotion is the term “regenerative abyss” first used by anthropologist Victor Turner to symbolize the original spirit of “communitas,” that is, a core concept in Turner's anthropology of ritual and religion.2 Turner's “communitas” signifies “communion of equal individuals,” which is thoroughly grounded in a shared experience of unique knowledge and understanding among them.2 Turner's “communitas” has 3 forms: spontaneous (referring to “I-thou” interaction characterized by personal honesty, openness, and unpretentiousness, as opposed to role, status, reputation, class, caste, gender, or other sociocultural expectations and structures), normative (referring to a stage in which rules and judicial structure are established to organize “communitas” into a social system), and ideological (referring to a host of utopian models inspired by spontaneous “communitas” through a reformative process).2 The normative “communitas” finds socio-structural activities as a source of stale conflict—unless people are periodically immersed in the “regenerative abyss.”2 Once such a phenomenon is exaggerated, detractors within organizing bodies try to revive the original spontaneity, starting anew.2 We call it “rebellion.”2

That is to say, the “regenerative abyss” of anthropologist Victor Turner implies the need to ask, “What am I doing here?” In this connection, the author would like to humbly ask clinical nurse specialists, “Are you truly happy doing the science you are now doing?”

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This literary work went through in-depth discussions on translation with Paulette E. Guerin (Bane), an American poet and assistant professor in the Department of English at the Harding University College of Arts & Humanities, Searcy, Arkansas, to improve its poetic quality. The author sincerely thanks Prof Guerin for her contribution and dedication.

References

1. Park CS. International Nurses Day 2021 literary contribution: at a fork in the research journey: a poem in resistance to publishing in highly ranked journals. Int Nurs Rev. 2021;68(2):147–148. doi:10.1111/inr.12689.
2. Mcgee RJ, Warms RL. Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Co; 2013. doi:10.4135/9781452276311.
Copyright © 2022 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.