Nov 23, 2015 | Second life
Current November is probably the happiest November by far, even after correction for the weather. You know, when you are a researcher, every happy day is a success itself. And, in addition to that, if you are an ex-depressed person, every happy day is one step away from death and one step towards life. You’ve got to fight for every single day, literally.
About a month ago I actually had some crush down regarding the fact that it was – arithmetically – halfway my PhD, but I have just discovered that someone recently published a method very similar to the method I had been working on. But then, I got a way better idea in just a few hours. And, what was even better, I think I found out a way to tackle the research problem I was working on. So, after all, instead of a problem, the news about those guys brought some solution to my hands. And after just a few hours I was happy again. I wonder what I would do if something like this happened to me a few years back… Well, probably I would get terribly depressed for another year or so, and I would definitely come nowhere near the solution.
And I am dead surprised that my own personality changed so much during over the last two or three years. In winter 2012/2013 I had some serious bumps on the way, and at that point I got a second life. Initially, it was meant to be just another PhD, but no – in fact it was a true second life and not only a second job. It all started with hiking Kilimanjaro in September 2013, so right before my second PhD. When I think about it right now, I get a feeling that solving my research problem very much resembles hiking that mountain. You think what you see is a peak already, but nope, it is just another pre-peak, and then another one, and another one… you are exhausted but you already made all the way up so you will not let go that easily. So you crawl your way up step after step, and the air around you is getting thinner and thinner… And you are getting angry at your guide, get mad, say words, but you follow anyways. And when you finally see the peak in the distance – and you know for sure that’s the right one since the green board with letters “Uhuru peak, 5895atsl” glitters on the horizon – you catch a second breath and nothing can stop you from hiking the peak from that point, regardless of how tired, dirty and breathless you are.
And then, when I restarted my PhD, I became a completely different person than before. Hard to make me down or depressed right now; the melancholy never lasts for longer than a day or two. Before, I used to be unable to sleep before public presentations, now I am more likely to oversleep than to be sleep-deprived before I have to speak to a group of 50 or more people. When I get stuck with something, I just immediately start doing something else instead of crying over the thing. I divided daily life into four baskets (work / people / health / investments) so when I get stuck with one of those, I immediately jump to another basket, without wasting one hour of life. I don’t know why it took me so long to work out such a simple system. Works perfectly well.
By the way, the fact it is OK does not mean it couldn’t be any better. Even though I am standing still on the ground at the moment, I still watch motivational speakers in action and read about motivation. Yesterday I bumped onto a completely different kind of a motivational speaker. Normally, these guys look like businessmen or models from a toothpaste advertisement, and make highly educated speeches in perfect British English. This one is completely different – an average guy, speaking slang, saying words, and throwing the ugly truth to your face:
His name is Eric Thomas, and his words are weirdly convincing to me. They are rough, but so so true. Who cares about stupid sleeping when there is a peak right in front of you.