The other day, this interesting thing happened that I felt like sharing with everyone.
I am a research student (a life event, by all means), who is getting trained for a life in lab. And I’m at a particularly boring phase of my work these days when I just have to look over this machine called “centrifuge” and whine about the line of work I have taken up.
So, to keep myself under the illusion that my life is not a total waste, I started looking for a suitable activity. So may be I could study my lectures, eh? But I found out soon enough that an average student like me doesn’t have the superhuman powers to study without a looming OHT or final, let alone study for leisure in the lab. So this became an out-of-question thing.
Well, I could sit around and check my Facebook all day. Strangely, that doesn’t work. There’s no fun in Facebook-ing if you are forced to it, although it’s a pretty engaging activity when you have a distraction at hand, like a pending assignment. Lab chairs are just uncomfortable, the environment is too hostile.
Digging through the layers of dust that have now started to form around my brain, I found this book (which was actually only sitting on the top shelf of my… shelf thing). I had started that around 5 or 6 years ago, forgotten where I was, started it again a year or two back. Mostly now, I could only leaf through about 3-4 pages of it in a week (according to the time I had – when I got off Facebook, of course, or when I wasn’t sleeping). So I decided to take up reading that, and finally get to check off one thing on my list of things-to-do-before-25.
And strangely, that thing clicked for me.
A day or two after, I had put my book on a table and was tending to my dear sample when a professor came in the lab, and saw my book lying on the desk.
Professor: “Who is reading “Emotional Intelligence”?” (“Emotional Intelligence” being the name of the book that I was reading)
I: (making a quick check on things I had recently done that might incriminate me) “I am.”
He: “Oh, have you read any more of Goleman’s books?” (Daniel Goleman being the author)
I: (now a bit surprised) “No, this is my first one.”
He: “Okay, so have you read it or are you just starting?”
I: “I am still reading it, just crossed some 200 pages.”
He: “Acha, I have it’s audio book with me, but never really seen it in it’s actual form. By the way, I have a lot of such books up in my office. If you are interested, do check them out and you can borrow one from me.”
I: (exceptionally pleased with myself by this point) “Sure, sir.”
He: “Once you have finished this one, do share it with me. I’ll be looking forward to that.”
And when I looked back at it, I realized that this probably doesn’t happen very often.
This experience refreshed my habit of reading. I have now actually started making room for that extra bit of reading that I had been failing to do in the past. As for the book, that I was lagging on for years, that I finished within the next week. This very small incident made me feel pretty proud that I had chosen to read a book in the lab instead of scrolling dead-brained up and down my Facebook news feed.
Ordinarily, this conversation wouldn’t have taken place. We are just not at that level with our teachers where we can discuss things other than those which are academically relevant (unless we are asking them for a treat of some sort), just as we cannot imagine them having activities other than teaching. On the other hand, neither do our professors often make that effort to may be influence someone they teach in their class; I don’t think many of us can recall something that we saw as inspiring in a teacher in the recent years. Or we are now probably just too old, and too smart, to get inspired.
True, there are all kinds of them too, but there are still the really good ones out there as well. And no matter how old you get, or how smart, they can still inspire you.