Passionate thinking

I recently watched El secreto de sus ojos (The secret in their eyes), a great Argentinian movie with an 8.3 rating on IMDb.

Around halfway into the movie, the semi-alcoholic police investigator Sandoval proudly and convincing tells his colleague Benjamín how they will track down the suspect:

El tipo puede cambiar de todo: de cara, de casa, de famila, de novia, de religión, de Dios… pero hay una cosa que no puede cambiar, Benjamín… no puede cambiar… de pasión.

This line made a big impression on me, and for the second time in less than one week I was asking myself: what is my passion?

Most people I know have some sort of passion. Some people like cooking, others like photography. Someone is completely in love with dogs, another has his heart devoted to a football team, and another still lives for science. And people who don’t have a passion they are enthusiastic about are those I would generally consider boring.

But I’ve come to realize that I might have become that boring person myself.

My greatest passion used to be music… mainly playing it with friends. But since ten years or so, my guitar playing and music making has slowly been diminishing towards nearly never. Meanwhile I am now spending an immensely large part of my life studying and doing biology. And while I definitely have a great interest for science, I am not sure if I would take it so far as to call it a passion.

So what is my passion? What is it in life that inspires me and makes me enthusiastic? What is it that makes me long for the weekends and holidays? To be honest, I currently don’t know.

And why do I consider this important? Well, how can I set up goals and milestones for my life, if I don’t even know what I am pursuing?

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Big plans

Being back in Stockholm feels rather strange. It’s the city where I grew up and have lived most of my life, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like home. One reason is probably that I don’t really have a place of my own here. I do have free and unlimited access to my dad’s apartment, but since the place is not mine I can’t help but feeling like a guest.

But it also doesn’t help that I’m right in the middle of everything. Not only unemployed, but also already with one foot abroad. And while I’m trying to get myself organized for Switzerland, I’m also preoccupied with what happens after that. Argentina or not? PhD or not? To be more precise, it’s more the what rather than the where.

The question of doing or not doing a PhD has been a matter of hesitation for me during the past four years or so. There have been times when I’ve been completely against the idea, followed by more positive periods. For the moment I’m leaning towards such a positive one, but I’m trying to make out how positive I really am about it.

What I am afraid of is that I might be accepting a PhD mainly because it’s the easy way out. But what if I was offered a good job today—also satisfying the where—would I rather go for that? Or if there was no where, would I still be contemplating a PhD?

The problem is that I don’t really have any concrete alternatives, especially not satisfying the where. And since my return to Argentina is a now-or-never decision, I don’t have much time to think about it.

Instead, I’ve been thinking of how to make the most and best out of a PhD, or what I could do in parallel. And—and An Animal probably won’t believe his eyes—I’ve started thinking in terms of machine learning and big data…

But I’ll leave that to some other time. This post is already a bit lengthy.

The Stockholm ego

Now and then I get reminded of why I do not want to live in Stockholm. I often mention the weather and distance to the rest of Europe as arguments, but the main reason is actually a different one. I cannot stand the arrogance and self centeredness of many people from Stockholm.

However, I haven’t spent much time in Stockholm in the past few years. And when I do, I mostly meet my friends and family, whom I naturally don’t think qualify into this category; if they did I wouldn’t waste my time calling then friends.

So I tend to get reminded during my travels instead. And one place you can be sure to meet them is on direct flights to popular tourist destinations in Europe.

This time, the arrogance was represented by some guys in (I guess) their mid-to-late twenties, singing, beat-boxing, and table drumming their way down to Lisbon. They cannot have missed the fact that they annoyed the people around them; especially since even I got disturbed, despite sitting 6–7 rows away.

I haven’t done enough charter flights originating from other cities than Stockholm to say whether this is unique for people from my home town. I also by no means claim that this behavior is common. But I can’t recall experiencing such self-centeredness on any other flights, so it serves as a good reminder (albeit metaphoric evidence based) of why I don’t like Stockholm.

The only thing that is clear is that the future is unclear

Another week has gone by here in Buenos Aires, and I now only have five days left here. Sentimental for many reasons, but since I have not been roaming around Argentina this month as I originally planned, it has also been bit boring at times, sitting around with nothing to do—especially while Lorena is at work or in class. So in a sense it will be nice to finish this chapter and start getting at least my near future sorted out.

Exactly what happens during my next half year is still unclear—about as unclear as most of my past half years have been since 2004 or so. A small proof of this is my flight ticket folder where I have filed most of—but not all—my flight tickets since 2009:

I wonder with how many tons I have exceeded my CO2 quota over these years...

I wonder with how many tons I have exceeded my CO2 quota over these years…

At least half of these are connected to work and studies rather than leisure, indicating how much I have been moving around in the past. I have to admit that this has started to get a bit tiresome, as I do not really know what is home anymore. Also, although moving around allows me to get to know people from all over the world, it also inevitably always leads to goodbyes—sometimes for good. This is the main negative part of solo-nomadic living.

Nevertheless, for the moment I have no reason to believe that this temporary living is coming to an end, at least not during the next 1–2 years. But exactly how temporary and where this temporariness will take place, is still shrouded in mystery…