We Need Skydiving with Microscopes

In a recent conversation, a post-doc expressed her disbelief that our boss’s kid was extremely upset after a sports injury when she was majoring in something completely different at college.

I explained: “When you can no longer do something that you love, of course it’s going to make you sad.”  If something that you enjoy for fun is no longer accessible to you, wouldn’t you fall into a depression, too?

The post-doc didn’t get it.  In her thinking, the kid should have been relieved that the injury wasn’t so serious as to prevent school work from being done.

This got me thinking about different mindsets.  There’s this saying in academia about “working hard and playing hard.”  People do both, but it seems that they only truly care about one or the other.  For one person, career and academics are the only important things.  Everything else is extraneous, a way to let off steam, or merely a means to an end.  Dividing one’s attention is deemed frivolous and unfocused.  For other people, passions aren’t restrained to any one thing.  Spreading it out, for them, is evidence of a full, well-rounded life.

People can be successful with either mindset.  Yet I find myself wavering, in limbo.  To the singularly focused, I may seem like a dabbler.  Some find it abhorrent that I’m not chained to the lab bench 24/7 let alone frittering away my time scribbling in this blog.  And then there are others who are too polite (or not) to tell me that I’m a dud for not taking advantage of every  weekend to go skiing, paragliding, or even attending stamp collecting conventions.

In either case, I kind of feel bad for not being driven enough to suit certain tastes.  Or not interesting enough to be bothered with.  But there’s nothing I can do about it.  So I’ll just keep trudging along, as I am.