Thursday, August 20, 2015

Postgraduate Journal 3.2.4

A moonlight picture of the "America" taken Christmas night, 1901, Baldwin-Ziegler Polar Expedition
(Semester 3, week 2, Thursday)
It is my style now to write about things from which I have been a bit detached, be they things that had happened in the past, ephemeral thoughts, or other things not concerning myself. I was mainly worried about appearing egotic on the internet. However, the need arose for me to put them in order when depression cycles happen too often to be amusing anymore, so a friend has recommended that I start writing again.

My life is a mystery to people now.

I have to clarify that I am now working towards a PhD. I have had to repeatedly explain that I didn't go through a Masters course. Sometimes I suspect that the same people come back to ask me the same questions again, and that even so they leave with a vague incomprehension.

The undergrads do not know. My family does not know. Doctoral students not from my lab do not know. Groupmates probably know, but they don't know anything else about my life. Not one person would know enough. And then I fade into the background of every setting.

A big gathering of my undergrad friends happens. It is in the daytime. I have lab.
A big gathering of my working friends takes place. It is on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday night. I have night lessons.
It happens on Sunday. I am at church or refusing to do anything if not with my family.

The fact is that my acquaintances are becoming strangers, deep friendships are becoming superficial, and that I am shedding my circles. It is like being in a room with walls that are closing in, like a ship sailing in a sea that is freezing over. It always feels like my schedule is to blame, or the inability of others to accommodate it, or that no one would bother to do so.

Me: Aren't you free at all?
Them: We are undergrads. We have classes, we have work.
Me: So do I, but I have decided to put them aside, if only for two hours.
They recede. They disappear. The echoes of their revelry fade away.
I go back to work.

What is the meaning in what I do?

So now I have work instead of a whole bunch of acquaintances. The work is usually something the prof has thought up.

But why? I always ask! Why this in particular?
The prof says: read these papers.
The prof says: it can be applied to such-and-such.
The papers make: no sense
The applications are: castles in hot air

Is there a meaning? How does one get about business? I ask my senior, who have been through more and therefore should know better.

The senior says: just do whatever boss tells you.
And I leave this husk of a human being alone, feeling none the wiser. I have no desire to get chewed up in this system and get spat out as a cynic.
The meaning must be arrived at through work, it must come with pain. Those do not matter, but there has to be a meaning.

Can I quit and do something else?

I can, and then I pay back a year's worth of stipends, and then try to find some job. I have no idea what.
I still feel that doing science is my life's calling.
I can quit next year, and then pay back two year's worth of stipends. It will be as if I had never lived in these two years.

A certain Dr. R. came to talk to us youngsters this Monday. He had found a way around this whole depression brouhaha while he was a student himself. The message is this: light, light is at the end of this tunnel, seek and you shall find! Glumness and despondency seem to be a common affliction across the board for those who have decided to trod this path. I had scoffed at this thought in the beginning, but I think the gravity of the situation is pretty clear to me now.

I stay at an apartment in school. I am dismayed to learn that some of my roommates have been positively antisocial. I have no desire to get chewed up in this system and get spat out as a psychopath.

Can I reach out to anyone?

I reach, but they are elusive. They fly away to fairyland with sunshine and flowers. They have no capacity to understand sadness. They yawn at my morosity.

I reach, but they have very important business to attend to. They go, they get married, they travel. They forget.

After a few tries, I give up.

I sometimes pray to Bubska who is lost at sea. I have no way of telling if she hears me or if she is passing it on. I can only hope.

A treasury of stories and memories are bottled up inside of my mind. They have to be told to listening ears, or they may wilt in this tight, crowded space. I write, but even this blog may be an echo chamber.