Twofish's Blog

July 18, 2006

Blogging to stay sane

Filed under: massachusetts institute of technology — twofish @ 11:33 am

I guess I can talk some more….

I’m a bit loopy because my wife and kids are in Taiwan right now.  Normally, they really act as an emotional ballast.  In order to have kids, I gave up quite a bit in terms of career, but when they are around I wonder if it was worth it to give up what I did, the answer is that it was.  Because they are in Taiwan, I don’t have this constant reminder that I did make the right choices, and this isn’t doing a good thing for my sanity.  Also, the personal stuff that I’m talking about, I normally talk with my wife about, and without that outlet, maintaining sanity gets more difficult.
When I talked about my evil nemesis getting a Nobel prize, I wasn’t using a figure of speech.  The research that they are doing is literally change the world/go to Stockholm type stuff.  The sort of thing I wish I could be doing.  One other detail is that this person is also another American-Born Chinese child of the Immigration Act of 1965 like myself.

In 1991, the Cold War ended, Francis Fujiyama wrote an essay called the “End of History” and the day I left I wrote my evil nemesis a very nasty note saying just exactly what I felt, and  I thought it would be the end of that.  But history didn’t end, I’m finding myself back at MIT, and I’m finding myself back in the same Cold War with my evil nemesis that I thought had ended.  It’s scary how ghosts you think you’ve escaped from just keep coming back.

One of the ideas that has some disturbing implications that people haven’t thought through is the idea of lifetime education.  The idea is that you aren’t done learning once you leave college and get your degree, that you are always coming back to learn more.

What if there are some things you don’t want to come back to?

College is a very difficult time.  You are away from home for the very first time, and you are faced with a lot of new and unique issues, you are trying to create your own identity, trying to sort through relationships, and in general trying to figure out how the world works.  But there is the promise that you’ll get your degree, you’ll get a job, you’ll moving to a suburban house, find a stable mate, and the theme song from “Leave it to Beaver” plays.

But now in the world of lifetime learning, adolescence never stops.  You lose your job, and you have to learn completely new skills for a new one.  You think things are stable, and the WHAM you get sick, your wife gets sick, your parents get sick, and you are just a lost teenager all over again.

You never grow up.  Because the second you are grown up.  WHAM.  The world changes on you and you are back in college again.

I’m the dad in “Leave it to Beaver.”  I’m supposed to know what to do, but I don’t, and the scary part is that I don’t think anyone else does either.

What a scary world we live in.

But it makes me feel a little better.  I’m not insane.  The world is insane.  I’m OK.

The analogy for my evil nemesis is that that person is a human fun house mirror.  Would make a great threapist.  I look at my evil nemesis, and I see myself distorted.  I remember a few months ago when I was back at MIT, I felt alive and liberated, the environment made me think to myself that I could do anything that I put my mind to.  But read about my nemesis, and suddenly I’m disgusted with myself.  I’m not a full professor at a major university pulling in huge amounts of grants and having a wonderful home life.  I had to give up a career to have a decent life.  Ugghhh…. Let me stop thinking along these lines, because I’m going to just get more depressed, but you see how rotten that person makes me feel about myself and why I detest them.
I don’t know what the solution is, but I think I’ve defined the problem………
Feel better now.

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