Soon I will experience my first winter in New York. The lights wrapping around the trees have found a way to get me in a Christmas-y mood. Do I have more to be grateful for? I’ve found myself thinking less about my old research problems – my permanent housemates – that used to accompany me everywhere these days. I’m finally living on my own.
I’ve written in previous posts about how I’ve restarted many of my old hobbies: piano, swimming, even doodling/writing. For the first time, there is no end in sight. I repeated to many a college acquintance how I don’t make predictions more than one year out anymore, since they’ve always been wrong; how I would get ABC done by XYZ application cycle and beyond then I just hoped I would be happier than I was while making the prediction. It would be almost 4 years after getting into college that I would pick up piano again. Now that there is no PhD application waiting for me, I spend less and less time on research. I’ve always joked with closer friends how I want a factory reset, and now I feel like I’m walking back along the path I’ve taken, picking up the parts of my bootstrapped machine that have fallen or broken off on my way to this New York apartment.
I don’t know what I plan to do with these parts yet. Some I’ve collected and are now on the floor once more, collecting dust. Some I’ve tried to reassemble, but it seems like there are at least two joining pieces I’ve yet to find. Finding out you messed up on the 4th instruction pamphlet of your battery-powered LEGO pickup truck is terrifying for the perfectionist. After you take it part, it may stay that way forever. Is that a risk to take with one’s life? Melting away with the snow doesn’t seem like such a bad way to go…
A friend at work recently asked me what my non-work dreams were, “let me guess, you would want to run a cafe?” Yes, I would, but before that I want to become a concert pianist. I don’t think I’ve answered that flavor of question with such certainty before. “You didn’t ask, but I think my work dream would be working on my own startup.” “Of course.” It’s nice to be around people for which my comment is obvious.
How do you know if your dreams are really your dreams? I really really do want to be a Math Ph.D. and to do research-y things full-time, but I’m not willing to put in the work to get to that point of stability. There are things we all want but don’t want to put in the work to get; is dreaming more so the willingness to work than the idea itself? Either way, I feel like I’m close to tapping in to a well of energy that will allow me to dream again.
Everyone works in New York, and they live like rats. Who are these lights for? This city is disgusting yet I choose to live here not knowing what beauty I see merely relying on an intuition that it exists. The city lights, covered by snow, will continue to shine.