Satisfaction Brought it Back
My old laboratory was the minuscule bathroom of the apartment I used to live in. The puny sink served as a heat-resistant, state of the class lab counter and a sharpener’s plastic container intended to collect pencil shavings made an exceptional beaker.
Day after day, I’d enter the lab and do my business before beginning a long day’s work of mixing highly toxic and volatile chemicals such as blue shampoo and baby powder with a bobby-pin stirring rod.
Although most trials ended in a sludgy failure, once in a while, I would create a substance with a smooth consistency and a glossy shine and in my young mind, that trial was a success.
A decade later, I stand in a lab with glass beakers, stirring rods, actual volatile chemicals, expensive equipment, and a sense of satisfaction that I can finally follow that childhood curiosity of mixing two substances together but instead of doing it for my own amusement, I can improve the world with one chemical reaction at a time.
When applying to colleges, I thought back to all those “experiments” I conducted as a child, and in a moment of impulsiveness, I chose engineering as my major. Pretty soon, I discovered that thanks to the inquisitive nature I nurtured as a child, I avoided many other careers that I was considering but know that I would grow to dislike in the future. and for that reason, amongst many others, I believe in pursuing curiosities, no matter how profound or trivial they may seem.
For example, a few years ago, friend mentioned the Norwegian comedians behind the “What does the fox say” video and in a bit of curiosity, I searched them up on YouTube. It turned out that they hosted a hilarious talk show, completely in Norwegian, of course. While most episodes were subtitled for the English speaking viewers, a few episodes were not. So naturally, I spent the next year learning Norwegian in order to understand their show.
Although I wouldn’t call myself even relatively proficient in Norwegian at this point, I learned copious amounts of information about Norwegian history and culture and know just enough of the language to get around when I go to Norway in the future.
Along the same lines, a boy I knew in eighth grade wrote a hundred-paged story, and I, in a bout of competitiveness and wonder, began to take creative writing more seriously. But in contrast to my Norwegian endeavors, my newfound interest in writing earned me a Scholastic writing award in the eleventh grade and a lifelong love for creating stories.
I have similar recollections for learning art, Japanese, knitting, the guitar, photography, and many other activities that I spent between a few weeks to several years learning. They all have a wide of range of successes and feelings of let’s-never-talk-about-that-again-thank-you, but in the end, I’m glad I tried out each and every one of them. Spurred on by a little curiosity, I peek into the worlds these activities occupy and realize just how much of the world I have to explore and learn that I never want to be pinned down by one career or hobby for the rest of my life.
After all, we only have around a century on a planet that spins due to money, time, and curiosity. For a person who already feels so, so old, I know that if I have my interest piqued for even the most minuscule amount of time, well I’d rather chase that curiosity and discover where it leads me rather than regret it until my dying breath.