Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not Fast Enough

I was going to title this "Too Slow" but then I thought that that was too negative. There is also a difference between not keeping up and not pushing the pace.

Living on the east coast was good for me. Going to WPI was great for me. The urgency in the atmosphere that is exuded there is intense. That being said, to the best of my knowledge it has been over 20 years since WPI has had a suicide. MIT averages something like three per year.

The pace of classes is unlike any other college I know of. the year is divided into four seven week terms with a fifth term in the summer. Everybody only takes three classes at a time (although four is relatively common, and addicting). The point being, everything happens really fast. In the space of a week you can totally fall behind. Thankfully, I never had a sick day in 11 semesters of college and graduate school. Well I had one, but that was because I fell 40 feet climbing not because I was actually sick. Also, that happened during fall break, so I did not have anything to miss.

I was recently talking with an engineer with experience in Arizona, California, and Seattle, and he was commenting on how intense or hard working people in the midwest are. I tried to stifle the smile on my face. People in the midwest are extremely hard working. In fact in rural areas there are farmers and ranchers that maintain hours and a pace in their work that is simply astonishing. I'm not diminishing that at all. However, I think that in the midwest most people have a nice work-life balance. On the east coat it seemed to me that many people did not have a ultimately beneficial work-life balance. It was more like a work-work-life-work balance. My experience could be unique because of the intensity of WPI, but I had the feeling that many people on the east coast put in tremendous hours.

Every once in awhile at work I get to a point where I am waiting on someone else for the next step of my work. I apologize to other people for my impatience and demanding nature. While I may not show it often or try to hide it, and considering I like teaching I must be less demanding and more patient than I give myself credit for, the standards that I set in my head are ridiculous. If I accomplish 1/4 of the things I would like to I'll have more success than I can even comprehend at this point in my life. I feel that most people do not share my ambition for better or for worse.

Returning to the topic, you could die today. You could be paralyzed today driving home this evening. You could slip in the shower and break your neck. You could die of carbon monoxide poisoning tonight. All of those scenarios are highly unlikely, but the point is, if you want to do something you need to work toward it, today. I'm not going to try to describe any sort of strategy because I have no idea what you want to do in life. My life is pretty simple and my daily run or runs as well as engineering are two things that I am very thankful to be able to do every day which help me work toward several of my goals. I mean, how do you describe putting energy into your family?

The east coast and WPI put me through the ringer, as I hoped, and that coupled with life in the midwest, as well as family tradition, and not dying in Pakistan, has helped me bring a sense of urgency to my life, that I am happy to have. Perhaps, just maybe, I can be fast enough.

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