Thursday, March 13, 2014

How it never ends.. but how it starts.

I'm supposed to go to the airport in two days, in order to cross the ocean and to keep a promise to a few colleagues. (Being that I don't keep many of those, it's rather crucial that I do so when it counts.)

Still, I'm easily exhausted. If I could say that I am exhausted right now then I would.. but the fact is that I'm not.

I know that I can still work, still have enough energy to keep the collaboration going if I budget enough effort per day of the visit.

I liken it to surviving on 5 1/2 hours of sleep per night: after a while it feels normal but you could swear that you used to be faster and sharper and maybe you're just "getting old" ..

I also know that once I come back, then I'll spend a few days feeling exhausted and bitter at having to readjust to my old routine.. to the extent that I'll probably swear that I'll never travel mid-semester ever again.

I don't feel the same anymore. It used to be easy, even natural, to be excited about getting up in the mornings and wanting to do maths right away.

Yesterday I met with colleagues in the department and we talked about PDEs.. rather, they did and I was trying to decipher what the underlying mechanisms were.

I am and will always be an analyst; these guys really think in terms of physical principles and what the equations are supposed to mean. I suspect that we'll keep a truce and the compromise of that truce will be geometry.

Anyway, my point is that the whole time I was absolutely ambivalent: I simultaneously thought (a) this is pretty damned cool and (b) fvck: I have.. aw, fvckity fvck! [1] .. that many incomplete projects right now and I'm supposed to learn.. no, have learned.. these disparate things; how can I juggle this one too?

The fact of the matter is that I don't know how long I can keep this up. It feels like a Ponzi scheme on which I can't possibly follow through. I don't know why people put up with it, with me.

Whether or not I am exhausted, I feel exhausted. So let this be a lesson to you young researchers: even if your intentions are good, never promise more than you can deliver.

[1] at last count, i have $5 + 3(\frac{1}{4})$ collaborations and $3$ solo projects; a $\frac{1}{4}$ of a project means that there is a decent lemma or two, but no real theorems yet. As for the topics, they vary from geometric measure theory and PDEs to fractals, sub-Riemannian geometry, and minimal-like surfaces .. to even Banach space differentiability! On top of these, i suspect that one collaborator is trying to convince me that dynamics is interesting.

No comments: