Thursday, January 29, 2009

Imperfect thoughts

I woke up today thinking about perfection, and how I unconsciously strive to achieve it. This train of thought probably crept into my mind because I have a paper to write that is far from perfect. I'm missing an experiment that I know would make the story more complete, but I don't have the time to go back to postdoc lab #2 to do it. Hence my writer's block, I think more about what I do not have than what I do.

I had an art teacher in high school who claimed that he did not give As to students because only G-d and he were perfect. When I got an A on a project in his class I realized he was probably not perfect either, as he could not spot my imperfections. My technique was far from perfect. But those were the early 1990s, when the existence of perfection was in question. Even Superman died...

My current postdoc mentor deems that perfection prevents progress, and I'm starting to agree with him... at least in my current scenario. I will be starting a new job in April and my goal is to start with a clean slate. No more "finishing up" while running back and forth between the old and the new. No more trying to work in two (or three) labs at the same time. My mission for these next couple of months is to tie up all my loose ends as best I can. And this includes writing up the paper as it stands today, without the what ifs.

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