I have spent a lot of time lately searching for a sustainable truism in my student life. So I have given to early morning studying, healthy diet, weight lifting, yoga, amongst other unusual activities. So this weekend I decided I’d try something different. But just last Friday I felt kinda depleted of new ideas to try. After all the activites I chose to participate in had specific utility, such as getting me more aware of the pain and hence stimulate my intellectual functioning, etc. Any other things I try might simply add on to the same purpose and hence not make a dramatic difference.
But then after reflecting through my weekly schedule and seeing what’s causing the inefficiency, I realized that staying in the office is such a bad idea that it made me whine more and work less, talk more and read less, resent life more and love my work less. After all the office is reserved for the undergrad students coming for help. Why else would the department accommodate us poor grad students with such gratuitous space? So I went straight to the library. Surprisingly enough, I found myself in much better control of myself. There is not the constant urge to check up on my facebook account to see how might be interested in dating me, nor the anguish of officemates trying to strike a conversation with you to reduce awkwardness of cohabiting the same suffocating space. The better part is that you can really forget about the elapse of time and pretend you’ve got infinite amount of it. And that’s so crucial for doing good research, especially in math, since the brain takes an unpredictable amount of time process complicated information and organize it in its own favorite way.
But now I am trying to get ahead of the game and figure out what might hold me back again in the future. There is always the fear that the more I adopt a certain methology, the more likely its effectiveness will be shorn off, until I need to find an alternative solution. So my feeling is the more I stay in a self-contained position in the library, the more often I will develop into a trance that hinders productive thinking. And once my brain figures out how to cheat my industrious conscience, it might simply do that over and over so that nothing will be done in the end. After all you can’t force a reluctant student to learn, much like forcing the brain to absorb. So by industry I must mean a higher standard of self-discipline. One that’s not triggered by a single momentous action, but rather requires an indefinitude of continuous monitoring of the different physical components that might fall prey to sloth. It is hardly emphasized that one needs to quit self-reflection sometimes and instead focus on the exigent matters at hand. The reflection could be seen as a nonreligious way of praying, i.e., self-consolation. But to overdo it could cause a lack of subtantive content and in the end lead to catastrophic thinking. So industry in its most difficult phase consists of coordinating the brain function in a way that’s conducive to productivity.