Just a Thought
Something very strange happened on my 60-minute train commute home. I had prepared, as always, to browse a dozen or so scientific papers on my iPad. I had neatly downloaded these before I left work. I also had considerable e-mail to answer, so I had planned to bang these out, too.
Then an apparent tragedy struck. Nestled in my warm coach, with my shoulder to the window, I opened the iPad and found I had no battery life. I can only imagine that the outlet at my home that I thought was giving this machine juice the night before was in fact dead. And so I was left alone with absolutely nothing to do. I couldn’t do a crossword puzzle because I had canceled my newspaper in favor of an online subscription; I couldn’t read, for I do that, too, through this waffle-thin device; and I clearly couldn’t tackle that looming mound of e-mail.
Lost, helpless, and a bit angry, I gazed out of the window. Then, in a few minutes, as the panic settled, that’s when it happened. I had a thought. Never mind what that thought was. What surprised and thrilled me was the mere fact that I had an opportunity to think. I don’t remember this happening in more than 10 years. During the whole 21st century, my life has been more about reaction than about spontaneous action. I react to papers; I react to e-mail; I react to phone calls and elevator conversations. I cram my entire day with input. Let’s walk and talk, I’d say to a trainee.
I now am re-addressing my priorities and leaving ample wakeful time to let my mind wander. Now I say to myself, let’s walk . . . period. Just a thought.
Editor’s note: Have a late-night laboratory confession? We just might print it.
This page was last updated on Monday, May 2, 2022