Tonight on MSN, Tomato messaged me, " Oh, my beef soup, so tasty, why do I need a PhD?" I replied,"
Yeah, why do I need a PhD, I can do dishes in your restaurant!"
So, why do I want to get a PhD? " It is a dream of life." Mom answered my question on MSN ( yes,
I have a modern mom that uses MSN) . Well, to be honest, getting a PhD is never my dream for life.
Even if I eventually get a PhD, the feeling of accomplishment is probably the most I will get. But
the feeling of accomplishment can be gained from many different things, for example, cooking a good
pot of beef soup, running marathon, etc. So, why do I want to get a PhD at all?
At first, when I applied for a PhD program, I would tell you, " I want to get a PhD abroad because
I want to see a bigger world and make contribution to the world." Yes, I was a young kid with lots
of love for the world. I wanted to extend our knowledge about humans, and hoped that would further
improve human lives. However, it was definitely not "love for science" per se that led me to this
road. I liked neuroscience. I enjoyed teasing apart thoughts and feelings. I had a vague idea that
behavioral neuroscience can be interesting to study. But as a biology major who had never seen
a lab animal doing more than walking around, eating, and sleeping, I really wasn't sure if my love
for behavioral neuroscience (e.g. learning) was just an illusion. " Well, since I want to do something
to help improve human lives, and since I am curious about behavior and the brain, let's try to
get into a PhD program about behavioral neuroscience first." That was the beginning of the story.
Because of the thought about "helping humans", at one point I was disappointed about science.
Even if humans can eventually cure all diseases, lots of people still die every day because of
wars. Even if they don't die, they can still live a long but unhappy life. So, why do we need
science? It seems more important to teach people to love each other and to be happy, rather than
studying science. " If what I am doing can not benefit the world, why should I do it?" I asked
So, if studying science is doing no good for huamans, what do humans need? "They need to know
how to be happy and satisfied." " But what is permanent happiness and how to achieve satisfaction?"
The question is probably too big and too philosophical. But to me, the answer so far, before I
change my mind, which can happen any time, is that to enjoy what one does and to cherish what
How does this relate to my choice of trying to get a PhD? To put it in another way, I find that
I don't want to study science, or to get a PhD, to help humans any more. It is not because I have
become cold-hearted after 2.5 years in this icy snowy town, but because I have gradually realized
the true meaning of the old saying, " it is the process that counts, not the end results." Back
to my conclusion from the previous paragraph, I just want to enjoy what I do, and to cherish
every day and every thing I have. If the results are good, the world may become better because of
my effort. But what if I don't find anything new to help the world? Is my life going to be miserable
or worthless? Maybe I won't even become a good scientist after all! But as long as I am having fun
from the process of studying science, and as long as I am learning to be happy and satisfied, I
will just try my best and accept whatever the end result is.
Although it sounds like I have found a good reason to be a PhD student, it does not mean I always
feel clear about my goals. Like I said, I want to "try my best" and accept what I get. But the question
becomes how I can try my best, or what way should be the best way. For example, I can not try my
best to sleep and claim " I am happy and satisfied. I will take whatever the result is." I have to
"do something" in order to convince myself that I have tried my best. But what is that "something"?
A smile from the boss? Running a thousand animals? Having read all papers in the field? The process
of figuring out what that "something" is can be tiring and lonely. After a long day with no reward,
it's just so easy to be overwhelmed by the countless uncertainty and physiological tiredness. "So,
what am I doing all this for? All right, I am trying to get a PhD. But what is this PhD for again?
Oh right, for happiness and satisfaction. But what if selling beef soup is actually what makes
me feel I am trying my best to reach permanent happiness? huh?"
Well, now you see what I mean. I don't really care so much about having a PhD or not. I just want
to "do something" that makes myself happy and satisfied. So, when things don't go right, I question
myself about whether I am doing the right thing. And "trying to get a PhD" happens to be that
"something" I am doing most of the time, it easily becomes my target of speculation.
So, after writing so much, the question actually becomes, " what is the right way of doing things"
rather than "what is PhD for"....now I have no doubt about trying to get a PhD..but constantly,
I am slightly anxious about not doing the right thing. I want it to be right, so I can say I have
tried my best, so I can accept any result I get...but what should I do?
At least I know what I should do now is to prepare teaching sociobiology for tomorrow's class...
something I am just learning from wikipedia myself :~~~~