Sunday, September 6, 2015


We arrived at the JFK airport at 2am Thursday morning. At 11am we took a shuttle from our hotel to Princeton, New Jersey, where we unloaded luggage and settled into the apartment that will be home for the next four months. And it is very nice. For the last two days, we have been living in a beautiful quiet park, next to a golf course.

And the institute here itself is a truly amazing place. Neverland. Where every year a handful of lucky people get to live in the park, next to the golf course, eating delicious food, and devoting themselves to the Life of the Mind.

Yesterday, at my first afternoon tea, I was speaking to a brilliant colleague who has recently been receiving well-deserved accolades and recognition. And he said something about the work of Famous Name, a guy whose name I know well from reading the most important papers in the field, but who is just a name to me, enclosed in fuzzy clouds of greatness. And as Brilliant Colleague mentioned Famous Name, he looked around, and then commented that Famous Name didn't seem to be in the room right now. And that is when I realized that Famous Name is actually faculty here. Not a fuzzy guy in a cloud, but a real person, who has a real job, and shows up for afternoon tea in the Common Room.


With some introspection, I have adjusted some of my goals for the next four months in Neverland. I would like to discuss important problems, and make real contributions and fruitful collaborations in research. I want to do all that very much. But I have realized that in order to do so, I need also to grow up a little bit socially. I need to stop thinking of people as fuzzy cloud people who are just names on famous papers, and start thinking of them as people with good ideas. And I am also just people, also with some good ideas. And I can learn from their ideas, and share mine. So I will open my mouth and ask questions and think and contribute and Learn! And also importantly, make friends and be a friend and enjoy the four months in the park.

How lucky am I?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very lucky, indeed.