Editorial: Meanings


I’ve been having a lot of questions lately about things such as “what the fuck am I doing with my life?”
The first time it happened when I woke up at 7:45am, as usual, in time for my first morning class. I poured myself a bowl of cereal – the last bowlful before I run out of cereal for another two weeks as I’m too forgetful (read:lazy) to go grocery shopping. I then took out my milk from the fridge and poured out about one huge chunk. My milk has curdled. I don’t understand how that happened. I checked the tag two weeks ago and it still had about a week before the best-before date, so it shouldn’t curdle already! But now it is all chunky sitting on top of my cereal. I didn’t know what to do with my last bowl of cereal except to eat it, so I ate it anyway. It was extra creamy and smooth.
After I had my cereal, I went to catch a bus at 8:15. The 8:15 extra bus drove right past me as I walked to the bus stop a second late. The 8:20 bus was late for 2 minutes. At 8:22, the bus finally drove by with a big “FULL BUS” sign flashing. I did not get on the bus, so I had to walk to class. Eventually I arrived 10 minutes late, but I didn’t even miss any lecture material! So disappointing! Apparently some random people came to our class and made some announcement about the referendum, and that’s why the lecture started as late as I came. I decided that I am going to vote yes to everything on the referendum because I wouldn’t have to pay next year anyway as I’m graduating.
After a full 15 hour of classes that day – the university offers 8:30 morning classes and 6:30-9:30 evening classes; what a healthy system! – the professor for my design project ended his lecture with the following golden words: “When you have all your assignments and due dates, and all you want to do is to get it done, do you ever step back and ask why are you actually doing this? What are you really getting out of your education?”
These words stunned me like the electric chair in the execution room at Fort Fright. Not because I have never thought about that question, but precisely because of the opposite: I ask myself what the fuck I’m doing with my life every single day whenever I’m doing
Electromagnetic Field Theory homework. Like, thanks prof for bringing to light my deepest miseries and sharing it with our whole class.
For most of my undergraduate career, I had no shame in robotically writing out homework after homework for the sole purpose of getting a degree in the end. Now that I’m nearing my graduation, my goal to get a degree stays the same. The quality of the transcript that comes with my degree, however, becomes less and less of a concern. Do I really care if I got a A+, or an A, or even an A- on my fourth year elective? And when will I ever need to compute the group velocity from the 1D crystal lattice dispersion relation in the first Brillouin Zone in reciprocal space?
When I came to from an intense life-questioning contemplation, I made a decision. I will continue the daily grind because I have no apparent choice, and I will write my entire fourth year thesis during Christmas break. Hang in there, it’ll be okay.