In many ones’ eyes I’m a poor student, consistently in my classes earning B’s and C’s. Perhaps an occasional “A” in some physics course. I’ve now come to accept this; that there are others whom have better short term memories than I do. Others who see an equation and read it through as if it were a sentence –whom can find an error in a collection of symbols faster than I can even read them.
For those like me without the opportunity to rude through these fields on the stallion of true mathematics, this is discouraging. So much so that as of late, I have become convinced that my classes and their closed-box curricula are not helping me all that much in accomplishing the goals I have set for myself.
I’m learning of course, how to solve many simplified, general-case problems. Problems others have fabricated to be solved correctly in only one way, for the ease of others hired to evaluate how well students solve such problems given limited time. And while that is great exercise, and gives some children the self-esteem and courage needed to peruse a career in their chosen field; that’s not the way such fields work. The real world today is numerically simulated, usually, with the help of software.
To say I’ve learned nothing though in my stay thus far at RIT would be a lie in its most general form. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to learn things about life many others haven’t yet seemed to notice; things too countless to tally.
I have learned that unfortunately the world is a sad place to live in. Most, if not two-thirds of all people are only out to cheat you. They’ll do so if it’s beneficial to them financially or socially, and whether they take on the title of car dealer, insurance agent, lawyer, businessman, scientist, doctor, artist or engineer is irrelevant -for many, dollars speak louder than friendship.
I’ve learned that people in power are often there solely because they wish to be. I’ve learned that police departments, and the systems of law we have in place to empower them are fundamentally broken, in that criminal records and jailtime do nothing for this society but socially force others back onto the same roads that such punishment is intended to keep untraveled.
I’ve learned to at all cost avoid political discussions. I’ve learned that many drug ‘abusers’ have some of the biggest hearts you’ll ever find in a person, and that saving your own money with the hope of in the future paying others is fruitless if you wish to pay them well.
I’ve learned that academia is in a state of despair; papers are published not for content but instead for numbers, and the other metadata attached. They are evaluated based on how complex and unintuitive their simple concepts have been twisted to be, and professors are hired and judged not on the importance of their work, but instead on their number of citations and the value of the grant dollars they bring in. It’s heartbreaking to see them, at one time young wide-eyed students themselves, forced to continually write unread proposals instead of moving forward the arts and sciences they so love.
What I feel is my most prudent lesson of all however, is that everyone needs help.
Whether it is help in something as simple as a math operation, or as complex as coaching someone off the brink of suicidal despair, help from others, is fundamental to solving problems. No one goes about large projects on their own and if they claim to, they are fools and pompous liars.
Forgoing such help in my past projects has brought me to a state of mind where hours of the day have become irrelevant, and it has brought me to a state where the only thing that ever matters, is “what needs to be done next?”. It has brought me to such a state of physical and mental torment that I have forgotten to eat for days, and on occasion forgotten to sleep as well. It’s now unclear even, how to recognize that I am tired.
Forgoing help, has brought me to a state where my only means of available relaxation and rest, were the forced escape of alcohol and cannabinoids. I’ve found myself socially into a world of work-abusers; a world where people –even ones so young as junior undergraduates, have become reliant on cocaine and amphetamines just to get done the work they have promised others; work that could be done easily if they would just ask for help.
This ends now.
It is exceedingly humbling to recognize that the advice offered by my first mentors at this university was correct. If I’m going to move forward with the projects I anticipate to complete, I need to be talking to people and not transistors. I am very fortunate to have spent nearly 15 years of my life doing the latter; in that, the experience I’ve thus far gained is one most haven’t the chance to have until age 30. However, it takes many hands to build an airplane, or in my case, what I wish to be a paradigm-shifting x-ray machine.
That said, the state of research science is still broken -broken enough, that I cannot expect such a project to move forward under the roof of my, or other universities in finite polynomial time. Instead I need to find a team, money, and some modern equivalent of Dave Packard’s Palo-alto garage to make this happen. I shall look for that then, once I have finished the hackerspace project I’ve promised to oversee and complete.
It’s time to learn how to ask for help, and how to coherently organize thoughts and people. It’s time to learn how to write, and how to intuitively understand others’ complex emotions, as well as the mass emotions of a crowd. It’s time to learn how to rip through published articles and extract their useful content, and it’s time to understand the mess that is law; both patent, and criminal. It’s time to do this while I’m young, impressionable and have relatively little to lose.
In any case, a degree in these modern days of social connection and access to limitless information, is irrelevant to my desired career of, “inventor”.