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A little more and I am undone ! October 6, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in CMU, life.

Its this thing about how you dont know what you can do until you have tried it.

As a research assistant in IISc doing just research ( reading papers, programming, meetings and random talk in the lab and ) and no courses, I thought life was busy. I still made time to meet up with people and actually had a great time in that one year July 2003-June 2004, so much so that it ranks high up there among the longest periods of greatest satisfaction ever since I computed such scores ! I wondered though with a busy life like that I could take anymore.

Come September 2004. As a graduate student in Boston, taking 2 courses a semester and as a teaching assistant, managing a house on my own and being responsible for oneself ( which I think is a full-time job 🙂 ), I again thought life was busy. I made time still, going around Boston, spending time online either reading something or staying in touch, talking long hours to friends back in India and an occasional trip to NYC, Niagara etc. I still wondered whether that was the most I could take.

Carnegie Mellon, Aug 2005. Research assistant again – which means there is always something to do. 2 courses, one of them insanely unfamiliar and competitive Carnegie Mellon. Life still went on. Did poorly in one of the courses but still managed the semester. And thus passed two semesters.

And now this, the third semester – two courses, both with a whole lot of workload. 1 lab with more work than the two courses combined. Research, must get a conference paper this semester ! And 4.5 hours a week of Karate ! Just after two 90 hour weeks leading to a conference paper submission ( and hope that goes through !! ), while still maintaining to steal sometime reply to emails, write blog entries to maintain sanity ( as I am doing right now before another night out with a huge homework pending ), I just wonder if it can get any busier than this. And one might be willing, even if able to take it. And would my view of this change, say I were a hedge fund manager making $200k an year logging 100 hours weeks ? ( Not that that is anything close to what I intend to end up doing, but a reasonable example for the current context.)

Something is true about adversity and challenge – at every quantum level, we tend to think that we cant take anymore. Yes, there are limits – physical, if not mental ; thermodynamic if not physical. But most of the times that we feel we have gotten there, we are wrong about it.

Back to work. One more such schedule and I am … !

P.S: Title paraphrased from the origin of the phrase pyrrhic victory.



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