“When I was young I thought money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is!” – Oscar Wilde
Yes, yes…Not the most important thing in the world…or so the idealists believe. But at the end of the day, we all struggle to make that extra penny.
Like every child, I went through phases where in each phase I dreamed of a different future. I had so many career plans…from teacher to doctor to forensic scientist! I won’t lie…I was smitten by the glamour world too…I dreamt also of being a model, an actress, an air-hostess, a dancer! And then 15 years post all those dreams, here I am – a scientist (?)! I don’t know what point I can call myself a scientist. Technically I am one but the word seems big for a tiny person like me. Research interested me from the start…it seemed the right option for someone with my temperament. I could work at any hour, take long breaks to think, design experiments to study the problem I wished to, read endlessly about others’ works. Basically, the freedom to study problems that interested me and the casual nature of laboratories.
Research is a big word. And unlike most professions, there is no set path. There is no correct way of studying something. There is no correct theory or model to explain things. Everything exists only until it is proven wrong. And being open to change and accepting theories that might contradict your own is the primary virtue a scientist must possess. People work hard in this field…second only to those in the army. Yet, the current state of affairs is that we get paid much less than engineers and doctors and models. I may never earn enough to be ‘rich’…but there is something that makes me want to pursue this further. One such moment is ‘now’.
I write this post while I have an incubation (basically, do nothing but wait!) going on through a new experiment. I have spent 4 days working on this one and finally, the wait is almost over. I will know whether 4 days of work paid off or it was all for nothing! This exciting wait is worth everything. It’s worth the days of preparation, worth the peanuts that I get paid, worth the struggle to get to the next level, worth the endless experiments that fail and worth the frustration following hard days. Before I go home today, I will have seen something that has never been seen before!
With that, my incubation is almost over…I am off!