Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Butter Side Up

Trouble creates a capacity to handle it....meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I have been accused almost religiously by some of being supremely lucky. My toast always lands "butter side up", they say. I wish for a moment to dissect this phenomenon.
  1. Toast falls
Everyone who eats toast on a regular basis knows that sometimes events occur that cause bad things to happen. We don't get the job we apply for. We choose to wear sandals on the day the freak blizzard hits. Our VCR (read DVR) stops recording the big game in the 4th quarter. Our breakfast becomes a wasted mess of food on the floor.
  1. Sometimes it lands butter side down
It is possible for seemingly/potentially bad things to be not so bad in the end. When something unexpected (like a sudden gust of gravity) begins to take hold of our well laid (or lack of) plans, our instinct is likely something akin to panic.

How lucky do we feel when the dust settles only to reveal that we are probably better off for the trouble than we would have been had our own plans succeeded. How well do we take notice of the silver linings in our rain clouds?

Regardless of occasional good fortune, sometimes the toast will land butter side down. In fact, sometimes the toast will fall in the fire and the engulfing flame will ignite the curtains and burn down the entire house. The real difference between the two proverbial glass-half- persons may be that the happier sort watch their house burn down and somehow--admittedly after shock and the entire grieving process--find a way to be truly okay with it.

My life is perfect because imperfections are a necessary part of a perfect life.
  1. What do you do when your toast falls?
My father always told me that it is good to have fast reflexes when you're as clumsy as he is. When I first see/feel that a hiccup has encroached on my life, I immediately begin to act (assuming I have had enough sleep lately). The bread is halfway to the floor when I swat it from below, sending it spinning toward the sink; I lunge for the falling toast again and again until at last I have either caught it or it has finally landed--mind it sometimes still lands butter side down

I don't know who of us is more likely to drop our toast, but I do know that I rarely see my dad get overly worked up or depressed when unfortunate things happen in his life--just a terse, whispered profanity and life goes on.

What do you do when your toast falls?

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Graduate Student's Dilemma

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
-Arthur Schopenhauer

The targets I hit may be hit by many, but not all--and likely still only by a small minority. I fear, however, that I am too afraid to aim for targets no one else can see. Experience has trained me that even if I believe I am the only one who can see it, it has likely already been hit by someone else (likely over 50 years ago); and I quickly shy away from the risk of being "that guy" who perpetually aims at nothing.

Conclusion: I am no genius, and I accept that. What then do I expect to prove by getting this degree? Nothing. But all this school has given me time to finally learn what it takes to make a successful scientist: a little bit of talent and a lot of public relations. 

Good thing I got that communications minor back in 2010.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

RSA Outrospection and Empathy

I think you've had enough thinking about yourself; time to start thinking about others.



Note: some of those who already think more about others than about themselves need not think more about others. You may actually make us all better off by thinking more about yourself. This post is not for you.


Unexpected Joys

Things I never thought would be as fun to say as they actually turned out to be:
  • "...my oldest..."
  • "...our kids..."
  • "...the boys..."