… for me at least.
These are times of project wrap-ups, end-of-stay work presentations, last drinks with friends and last cozy nights with more-than-friends. I have practically shaved my head and started packing my luggage. Next weekend I fly off to Bangkok for a couple days: not so much for relaxation as for a very necessary transitional break before resuming six months of intensive studying in Paris. Vacation time is over. Not that it was exactly vacation to begin with, but what’s ahead is sure to make this ending Summer feel like a slice of paradise in comparison.
Actually, I am not dreading return as much as I thought I would. I know those six months aren’t gonna be much fun, but the mere fact that they have a specific timeframe and the knowledge that I’ll be done at the end of March, helps make it all feel like a sort of extended vacation to Paris. And Paris is much more enjoyable if you feel you are visiting than if you actually live there. Parisian life is a different form of fun that only appeals to me, given the certainty that it won’t last: fancy dinners out, cozy wine-sipping evenings at home, opera season, art exhibits, cocktail party crashing, overwhelmingly beautiful architecture on every corner, drunken bar-counter philosophical debates… All so typically Parisian, overly sophisticated fun… that after a while makes you yearn for simpler, more natural ways of having a good time. Which is when I will be about done with my current academic pursuits and will gladly move onto another period of my life, presumably far from Paris, without regret or bitterness. So, timing is perfect, it appears.
Plans for next year are still deliberately very vague. Much less definite as they were at the beginning of this Summer. I no longer know whether a Ph.D. is the necessary path to what I later want to achieve, in fact, maybe university research altogether, isn’t. Or perhaps it is my field of research that needs revising. Throw in a couple very tempting offers, brought over to me lately, that I would be a fool not to at least consider…
Part of my Summer here was coloured by the fact that college friends I hadn’t seen much in ages, now work and live in Tokyo. Hanging out with them coincidentally reminded me of an essential conclusion of those years, that I might have lost sight of otherwise: The fact you have the abilities to do something doesn’t mean you should, and definitely doesn’t mean it will make you happier. Back then, I once did the mistake of picking what most people seemed to hold as a universally enviable life/career path, only to quickly realize that most people’s idea of happiness in life probably didn’t match mine and therefore neither did their conception of how to achieve it.
I now realize that I might have been about to do the same mistake this time again. And that’s why I feel I need to stop and question my true motivations and the goals I am looking to achieve. Which could in turn lead to either three more years of selfless scientific pursuits… or Buddhist priesthood… or traipsing the white sand beaches of Brazil with a yearly supply of gin and reading material… Hell, maybe a foray into the glamorous world of investment banking and hedge funding… Who knows.
Regardless of what my pick turns out to be, it is very possible, even likely, that I will be back in Japan for another six months next year, as part of my graduation research requirements. As to whether these six months will turn into a longer period of time, is a question I couldn’t even try to answer at the moment. I guess I have some time to figure that out.
OK. Quarterly life update is over. Regular programming should now resume.