I’m still very much in love
Things have been rather quiet lately. Life has been same old, same old for the past week. The same pattern of read-frustration-read again-still frustrated continues to perpetuate. I thought I fell out of love with science. I thought that the daily struggles were fighting to do the work that I no longer loved, and I continued to find that life was not worth living. But it turns out that I was wrong.
I posted a photo on Instagram of my computer’s keyboard with a line of lyric: “I asked for death, but instead I’m awake.” It prompted texts from concerned friends, and from one of those conversations sparked a realisation. The dots suddenly connected. And the veil was lifted from my eyes.
By a strange twist of fate, I wandered into a swamp, and in that swamp were creatures that fought so fervently for their survival that they did whatever it took. That included hurling toxic sludge at each other, smearing the eyes of the younger ones too. The food they fed on included a diet of lies, and false truths, and they fed them to the young ones too. It was toxic. And I fell gravely sick. I was reaching out of the swamp, hoping that someone would give me a hand to get me out of my sticky situation. Somehow, the wanderer that occasionally comes to clean up the swamp crossed paths with me, offered me an arm and I climbed out. The swamp made me very sick, and to this day, I’m still feeling the effects of the toxic substances I was feeding on, although I’ve gotten out for 6 months already.
I live on truth. So much so that I adopted an even “purer” form, in the old language of Latin:“veritas”. Science chose me at a very young age; like a wand chooses its master, not the wizard choosing the wand. I loved it because it gave me power, and it gave me security, it fed my need for truth. The “language” of DNA became the language that science spoke to me since I was 14. We had a way to communicate now. And it was beautiful. I was in love.
Science became the vessel through which I lived life. Much like how a wizard wouldn’t really be a wizard without his wand, I wouldn’t really be alive if I didn’t have science. Which was why I pursued so vehemently to study science for my undergraduate studies, rebelling against the wishes of my parents, and the logic of seniors, all of which told me that a life in science would be difficult, blah blah, and tried to bait me away from science with “material comforts”. I must admit that the allure is huge, but science provided for me, gave me an opportunity above and beyond what I deserved. She provided me with security too, and I pursued her with all my heart.
The lies were poison. It destroyed me. Like a hammer to a piece of glass, it kept pounding. Every single day that hammer pounded. I no longer recognised the face in the mirror. I knew I had to get out if I still wanted to live.
The after effects were unpredicted. After all, this had never happened to me before. Another twist of fate let me wander into the mangroves. And that was the final push that was needed to throw the balance off to a point where I could no longer self-correct.
The things that I used to love no longer interested me. I avoided pain at all costs. I started having suicidal thoughts. The pain attacks were almost daily. The slightest of things can send me spiralling downwards into oblivion. I was out of control.
But luckily, God kept me. I didn’t end my own life. I sought help, together with a whole village of people and a tiny pill each day, I started to recover. Things are starting to look up. But the pain never really went away.
I just started my second semester of my PhD course. And in about a year’s time, I’ll have to take my Pre-qualifying examinations, which I must pass if I were to be allowed to continue on the course, and eventually defend my doctoral thesis. My work still involves a lot of reading of the literature and grasping my subject and area of research. But the readings were not getting any easier. It was still difficult, and it was still painful. I’ve come across passages that were phrased in a way that inhibited understanding. It felt that the authors deliberately made it convoluted, for whatever reason. Perhaps they don’t understand it clearly themselves. Perhaps there are ambiguities in the results, and they were trying very hard to make the data fit the picture. But when it came to the really solid stuff (the stuff that’s clearer in the realms of black and white in this universe that consisted of 500 shades of grey), it was reported in a manner that was easy to understand. The sentences were structured in a crisp manner. The findings were reported with ease. In those circumstances, understanding flowed.
A byproduct of my depression was self-loathing. I hated myself for having a short temper, for having limited focus, for having difficulty in understanding material. I blamed myself for everything. And it flowed to my interactions with others. Relationships were harmed, and Pei took so much of my anger. It hurt me, but I was in a lot of pain too, and I didn’t know how to stop it.
I wanted to stop the pain. I’ve deconstructed every single aspect of my life: family, relationships, friends, cycling, work… All except the fundamental love for science. I had not deconstructed that. I believed that I already fell out of love, and it had already became hate. But I also questioned why am I still hurting? if I truly hated it, like the hate for oversized t-shirts, I’d have gotten rid of it already. I would have gotten myself out of the program. I would have pulled the plug on my scholarship, regardless of the consequences. Alas, I’m still here.
That was when it hit me, that I’m still very much in love. But I couldn’t let go of the betrayal that I felt from those companions that claimed to profess the same love for science as I did. It runs much deeper than betrayal; I could find no words to adequately describe how I felt.
Then suddenly, as if a knob had been turned and a gear clicked back into place and the movement was running smoothly again.
Now, two dearly loved people told me that we don’t need to be followers of the system. Just because others hurled mud at each other doesn’t mean that I had to too. My love is still present, albeit in broken pieces. My passion still burns, although it’s only smouldering embers right now.
I suppose at the end of all this, I’m thankful. I didn’t get absorbed into the swamp, and started adopting the detestable practices that were vile to me. I can only wonder what sort of effect that would have on me, perhaps I wouldn’t even be alive to write this now. I praise God that He’s opened my eyes to this alternative environment and its signatures, so that I know to look out for them and identify it when I see it.
The way to hell is wide and paved with good intentions. But narrow is the gate to heaven, there which you’ll find the fountain of life, and God himself.