Saturday, December 03, 2005

I am a rock


Had an interesting conversation with mom last night. I was describing my lightning visits of friends in the Bay area, and how people change as a function of time until they're almost unrecognizable. With that insight that someone who knows you well occasionally displays, she said I sounded "sterile".

And the more I think about it, that's exactly right. For the last few months, as I've been mentally withdrawing from Tech, and in particular during this trip, my emotional detachment really is most accurately described by that word. In many ways it's a conscious decision - a determination not to get involved in anything or anyone too deeply while in this transient mode. Partly I suppose it's motivated by my break-up
with Chu-hsin, which at least to some extent was occasioned by the whole long-distance thing, and so I don't want moh-maya to impinge. Not just in terms of relationships, but also friends, personal belongings, favourite places, the whole deal.

As with anything, there are pluses and minuses. On the positive side, it's been a very cleansing experience thus far. I swoop down on some buddy or relative, spend a few short but sweet hours or days with them, and having exchanged memes, move on. It's light on the soul, but the experience is rich and rejuvenating, especially
since familiarity has no time to breed. It also, to quote mom again, produces "equanimity", and peace. I just found a fatal flaw in a proof of a theorem I've been hoping to prove for over a year, and thought I'd finally nailed. The only way I know how to do research, or in general do anything significant, is to get emotionally
involved and stake some fraction of my happiness on it. And so, normally, something like this would put me in a funk for a few days. But now, or at least right now, I'm like "Meh! {shrug}".

The downside of the above, of course, is that I LIKE being emotionally involved. The highs I get from an achievement really are what make life worth living. Not that I'm suicidal right now, of course not. Just that the food tastes blander (no, it's not my cold) and the roses don't smell so sweet (that's not my cold either).

On the third hand, this blog is giving me actual pleasure. I enjoy spending time mentally structuring, composing, and fine-tuning some of the entries (the ones not entirely geared toward my single faithful reader, mom :) Besides being a keepsake of this month for myself, it's been a catalyst for finally breaking through my writer's block. And the main lesson I take from writing for it is that I write better, or at least feel better writing, for audiences (and theoretically, at least, this blog has one :)

Well, anyway, I guess I'll just have to jump right into the cause (whichever), come Boston, and then all will be well (and also not so well) again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This emotional vaccum comes naturally on change in life circumstances splly when there is major change like yours .
I faced the same thing when I passed out of college and went for internship.But then it did'nt last long-coz internship is tough and you have no time to brood. Your journey out of college is a journey in more ways than one- it is a voyage of self discovery no? not that you have not discovered yourself before but you are seeing another side to yourself

11:25 AM  
Blogger rebecca said...

I adore the phrasing "and having exchanged memes, move on."

I also agree with the need to emotionally invest yourself in your work (broadly defined) in order for it to go right and for the payoff to be what you're craving. I spent a while trying to de-invest myself from my work so that I wouldn't get so upset when things went poorly - and then decided that was utterly the wrong way to go about it. I like being invested in work and the world.

10:40 PM  

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