how to judge a day

how to judge a day
Photo by Daoudi Aissa / Unsplash

Wow! It's already Friday, and this is my first post of the week. My writer's block is very real!

I'm done with classes for the semester, and I'm having a blast working in the lab full time. That's what I signed up for when I started grad school! I can't share all the details (patent pending), but I can say that I'm currently trying to turn fat into blood vessels—with varying levels of success.

The past few weeks were so much fun. I've celebrated with friends, eaten lots of good food, read some great books, played the organ for my jury recitals, and now I'm cooking a pot of beans. My new home (usually a frozen wasteland), has finally thawed out. I'm sitting next to my open window and enjoying the sun and the birdsong.

I woke up this morning thinking, "Wow! Today's gonna be a great day! I'm gonna get so much done!" I set my calendar, made sure everything was in order, then rode my bike through the rays of sunshine that followed me all the way to work. The sun didn't stop shining until I realized I forgot to thaw one of my frozen reagents. I thought to myself, "Man, what a crummy day." Next, while using the microscope, I saw some very exciting results. "Wow! This is such a good day." Then I got home and realized I forgot to put something back in the fridge. Instead of biking all the way back to school, one of my friends offered to put it back for me. "This is the best day ever!"

My perception of a day can swing from soaring over the earth, to stagnating in a pit with only the slightest provocation. As I fall asleep most nights, I go through some mental gymnastics to calculate the quality of the day. I don't know if the best way to judge a day is by counting the number of peaks minus the number of dips, or if I should calculate the integral of my mood as a function of time. (Here's a good video on integration for those who want it 😀).

Here's my conclusion: I have no idea what's going on.

Tons of days I passed off as "bad" have spawned the greatest and most positive growth in my life. Other "good" days led to nothing. They were fun while they lasted, and now they're gone.

This is a bit of a paradox: I can't know how a day will affect the rest of my life, so why do I try to rate them? I have no idea.

From talking to my friends about it, here are some options:

  • Trust what feels right in the moment. Intuition will take you a long way.
  • Trust that everything will work out in the end. This option is my favorite.
  • Conversely, accept that nothing actually matters; entropy is the driving force of the universe, therefore everything we do is simply doomed to create chaos in the end.

The fact that I believe the quality of a day matters is evidence that I'm actively fighting entropy. I don't just think it's possible to be a constructive, creative force to everyone and everything around me. For some reason, I feel a drive to be that force. In fact, when I lay in bed and try to judge my days, I don't think I actually judge them by counting peaks or integrating a curve. Subconsciously, my mind's trying to teach me my "mission," and until now, I didn't realize that.

I never imagined that rendering fat would be part of my life as a professional bioengineer. Did you know that life expectancy in the US actually decreased between 2019 and 2020? Somehow, the unglamorous activity of rendering fat is redeemed in my mind by its potential ability to reverse that statistic.

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