Justin Li


Restless

2009-06-12

Although I only had one final this week, I had some grading to complete and a take-home to finish. In reality I didn't have everything done until last night. And almost immediately, I felt tendrils of doubt creeping into my mind. What am I to do now?

I am someone who needs things to do to be satisfied. It can be school work, or being with friends, or sinking into a good book. The first I'm done with, by definition; the second I don't have that many of; and the third I have a nagging feeling is not constructive enough. Paul Graham says of reading, "Except for some books in math and the hard sciences, there's no test of how well you've read a book, and that's why merely reading books doesn't quite feel like work. You have to do something with what you've read to feel productive." That's why I use book darts, to keep track of stories which I find inspiring and sentences of succinctly expressed great ideas. I write the quotes down afterwards, and they may eventually find themselves in blog posts - as the ones from Closing the American Mind did.

I've always thought that the greatest contribution of religion to personal life is that it gives people a purpose. I believe in creating that purpose myself instead of having it be prescribed, and so perhaps it's strange that I don't like free time. But I don't think that's a fair description of myself; it's not that I don't like free time, but the promise of more, better things to do in the future makes this period of relaxation boring. In two weeks I will be in LA, once again interacting with the smartest kids in the country and the world. In three months I will be in Ann Arbor, naively eager to contribute to the compendium of human knowledge. It is in comparison to these sights and sounds that this period of nothingness seems dull.

I was once asked whether I will miss Northwestern. As a rather unemotional person, I replied that I don't think I will. "Missing" is not the right word to use. I am certainly sad to see friends depart, neither of us knowing when we'll see each other next. I also know that I have fond memories of my time at Northwestern, and will sometimes reminiscence over them. But I believe I have a bright future, with the great opportunities for happiness (and disappointment as well, I suppose). The past has shaped who am I; now let me shape the future.

What I'm saying is that I would rather have graduation done with, then jump on to the next thing in my life, than to waste a week waiting for things to catch up to my enthusiasm.

I guess I'm an impatient person.

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