Friday, March 28, 2014

He who lasts laughs, wins

Scene: airline lounge; The view out the bountiful windows showing the setting sun as planes move silently around the tarmac.
Inside: 90% men mull about in ties and jackets; a few use the cell-phone self-importantly; The occasional family barges in. Alcohol is self-serve as are little bits of sandwiches.

I don't like jackets and I hate ties. I like to consider myself a graduate student even though those days are long gone. I'm still a sucker for free food and I prefer not to be on the phone. These folks here dress better than I, but perhaps none have as expensive a laptop nor as much time with family as I. They surely make more money than I. A very good wife, healthy if not always happy kids, and I research what has fascinated me since I was a little boy. At times, I very happy, even proud, of what I have (what I have earned).

But many physicists make more money than I, get invited to more workshops, produce more interesting research and they have families as well. I see a good talk and I want to be doing that be the first to understand some cool new feature. I want people to assault me at the coffee breaks asking this or that about my research.

I don't think any of this is unhealthy, but it takes some work stabilizing these competing influences. Putting a check on any jealousy, figuring out which is more important, getting an important paper out before someone else, or seeing my child in some micro-achievement at a crowded, loud, and boring even at school...Being happy and content but yet with the drive it takes to find and answer interesting questions. They'll be calling my flight soon...anxious to return home, if only to hold my family for a few days until the next meeting.