Self-identity update: I now appear in the role of house host. I cook. Good food. I clean. I build fires, and pick up toys. I work on my patience. I sit in the living room, and look at my bookshelves, and wonder what all those things are doing there, gathering dust.
Okay, these times come and go. Life, in many ways, most ways really, is very good. But I want so much to have some reason for writing a new year's letter, to have something to say, to show for my effort and time passing.
I've been thinking lately about the practical applications of my research. I think of Propter Doc's recent comment. (When you've got no external support mechanism for your research -- I suppose it's like being a poor misunderstood and neglected artist or poet -- you've got to find the motivation and the justification within.) Oh, there are many. Much of it, of course, is what I deem basic research. It's got to be done. There are few who do this sort of work, who look at these things. But I can see implementations that could really and truly change aspects of our daily lives.
That's good. That's exciting. I have to remember these things as I go about marketing myself, and my work. But I wonder... just like the chemist or physicist or biologist, who spends a lifetime on a problem, finding a solution to it... will I, might I... get scooped just before a breakthrough? What happens to someone who spends years or decades of effort, getting closer and closer to a solution, only to have someone else solve the very problem? Is all of their time wasted?
Ah, there must be more in life than work? But what about the work? Perhaps the process is more important (or at least at times like that, it must become more important) than the product. Perhaps it enriches the individual, even if the resolution fails to serve the greater world? Is that enough? What is the worth of an individual, dedicated in life to their work, if the sum product of that work is... an empty set? I think of the recent suicide of Bright Star's friend, or Denise Denton's back in June. How sad to feel so empty. No one should ever feel that low. I've had practice keeping myself above those depths, but what can we do for others?
Oh, there is more to life. That I know.