Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What Drives You?

Man, yesterday was amazing. My advisor was extraordinarily nice to me. My labmates sung me happy birthday, gave me a monster gift and threw me a huge party. Afterwards, they all hoisted me up on their shoulders and carried me all the way home. It was amazing, I came home early and got plenty of rest.

No, it didn't happen that way. In fact, it was just the opposite. Take the antithesis of the above and that was my 30th birthday. I came home tired and monumentally unhappy. My parents called, I heard the story, but this time I had a different response. "Mom, who cares? Who cares about people? They're nasty, selfish and worthless. Why should I help anyone? Look at all the terrible people I work with... should I really help them? Aren't they just like everyone else in this world? I mean, what's the point? I can be as good as I want and that's not going to change anything..."

There was a long pause on my parents end. It was as if both were taking a deep breath. My Father responded, "What drives you, Vavoom?" "Huh?" "What drives you?" "Dad, what does that have to do with anything?" "What drives you? What keeps you around?" "Honestly, I don't know... I honestly don't know..." I broke down sobbing on that, my 30th birthday, "I just don't think life is worth it anymore..."

My Mother said, "Breathe, Vavoom. Breathe." My Father then said, "Find your center, son. Calm yourself." He continued, "You are right, there are plenty of bad people and no, the world is not necessarily a good place. I wonder though, what would it be like if people like you give up? What drives you, Vavoom?"

I thought for a while. I still didn't have an answer.

My Mother picked up the conversation, "When you were young, you used to put a cape on and jump off of our furniture and pretend you could save the world. Can't you still live that way, just focusing on one person at a time?"

I smiled. Something about that rang true. Maybe the world is bad. Maybe some people truly suck. Still, what's stopping me from doing my best and being good? Nothing.

The conversation ended with, "You know Dad, I do know what drives me." "Good," he responded. Funny, he didn't ask what that something was. I guess that wasn't the point of asking.

If you'll excuse me, I've just put my cape on. It's time to find some furniture to jump off of.


Blogger The Disgruntled Chemist said...

Excellent. Jump into something soft, though - wouldn't want you to have any more foot troubles.

And I don't know if one thing you typed is necessarily true, the point about you being as nice as you want and it's not going to change anything. There are people in the world who the majority of people are just not nice to. Maybe they're homeless, or ugly, or just a jerk.

If you're nice to those people, they will notice. Maybe it won't change their life, but they might just get a little more faith in humanity. And that's a pretty damn good gift to give someone, if you can.

I think you've got that gift to give, through your scientific knowledge and through your personality. And just because the world doesn't appreciate it, doesn't make it any less valuable.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

chemist: You're absolutely right. I guess that's what I realized last night.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I believe that kindness can change another person's life, but we don't usually get to see it. Don't get discouraged if you are nice to someone and they don't immediately become a different person; changing lives takes time.

4:46 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

I used to do the same pseudo-flying with my cape and then once in awhile I'd climp to the top of a hallway as if bitten by a radioactive spider while waiting for family to pass under me. I have a hero complex but I believe your parents are right. I'm driven by knowing that what I do and how I act can make an impact on one life at a time. I can only hope to help as many as possible before I'm a footnote somewhere. B)

6:16 PM  
Blogger A Fashionista said...

I work with selfish,unhelpful, slackers and all the bosses see them and watch me pick up their slack and do nothing. No write ups, no reprimands - nothing. I thought I was going to implode from all my anxiety and internalizing. Tomorrow I start accupuncture and I'm leaving work early on a busy day and fuck them all. I do my best. I live by the philosophy if you're gonna do something, do it well and do it right or don't do it at all. Some people don't have any pride or shame. I do, so people like you and me may go unappreciated by our peers and/or bosses, but there are people who reap the benefits of our dignity and good or hard work. That should be our "center" no?

10:20 PM  
Blogger Bar Bar A said...

I agree with may never see the changes you are making in the world by being who you are - a kind hearted person who cares. But your life is making a differnce - for example right here on your blog are people who have been touched by your words...including yours truly.

Big hug to you...30 is young, trust me

10:44 PM  
Blogger thc said...

Some people really do suck and academia seems to have more than its share, but you just have to pick yourself up and power through. Happy 30 years and a day.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday Vavoom. Don't let the people at work drag you down. In my experience, assholes like them are usually fundementally unhappy. They are just taking it out on you (and each other). Don't let them bother you, if anything, you should feel sorry for them.

3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ack! Sorry I missed your big 3-0. Herzlichen geburtstag!

-Raine in Seattle :-)

9:52 PM  
Blogger Camphor said...

Belated Happy Birthday.

You know the one time I actually leapt off furniture (I was skeletor, from 'He-Man', by the way, my lil bro was He-Man) my brother broke his front two teeth. :D Gave up on leaping off furniture after that.

No, I didn't miss the entire point of this post, just was giving an anecdote to read. And avoiding the questions, of course.

11:24 PM  
Blogger RT said...

Now see, Vavoom? They all gave you better advice than I could have. I would just say to suck it up and go get shit-faced like everyone else does on their 30th :p

5:12 PM  

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