What We Choose To Do In Between

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I have an organic chemistry quiz tomorrow at 7:30 in the morning, so I should go take a shower, study and go to bed soon. However, I feel like I need to share some thoughts with everyone. At UC Davis the general chemistry series is called Chemistry 2 with three quarters of A through C. For Chemistry 2 B I was "fortunate", for the lack of a better word, to have professor Andreas Toupadakis. All chemistry aside, I think I learned a lot more from him than shit I will never use again in the future.

Toupadakis was not the easiest professor in the sense of what he tested his students on. He moved quick expecting that his students read everyday from the textbook and look at the Power Point slides before and after class. A majority of his students struggled because of his expectations. He believed that truly learning chemistry wasn't about him spoon feeding his students information so they can cough it back up. He believed that it was necessary to study, review, and discuss things he taught everyday on our own time. He expected that we go to our teaching advisor, or all of them, and ask questions. It was extreme; all I decided to do was attend workshop and in the end I got a decent grade.

Let me get to my point. He curved his class accordingly, generously even, he made the class average a B-, and so even if everyone got 50/100 on exams, 50 was the B-. That was that, kids got their grades and moved on. But he closed the quarter with a speech prior to everyone taking the final.

He told us that education has nothing to do with grades. Life has nothing to do with grades. He explained that one A, B, C or F now did not mean the same grade for the rest of one's college career or determine an individual's ability to achieve their wildest and most difficult dreams. He said that people spend all their time worrying, stressing, and feeling helpless for something that is such a small part of their lives. He always would say that life is like a roller coaster, as cliché as it may sound. There are times when you're doing fantastic and you're at the top and everything is going fine. Then you dive and plummet into misery and hardship with school, friends, work, everything. But that's all right. He said that's part of life. He felt that even though there may be times where we get way off track, nothing is stopping us from doing what we truly want to do. To quote him directly:

"You can use all kinds of tips and tricks to improve your grades, but unless you're doing something you really want to do -- not something someone else has chosen for you -- you are not going to do well," He also said too often he sees students undergoing a "terrible, depressing uphill battle" with their education because what they are studying is not their main interest.

"We spend so much time in our lives working on a degree or at a job in order to pay the bills. When that degree or job does not fit us -- in other words, when we do not love it but are doing it only because of fear in order to survive, or because of ego -- then from vocation/profession, it becomes occupation, and it negatively affects everything we do in our lives. Love is the force that holds everything together in harmony. The greatest lesson to learn in our lifetime is to trust, serve and love one another."

Perhaps that went tangent, but sometimes life goes tangent. Toupadakis said that where you stand today and the goal you set for yourself are two points on a plane. Although everyone would like to travel the shortest distance, it is rarely possible to do so. Sometimes we get close, sometimes it couldn't seem further away, but that's not the point. What's important is what we choose to do in between. Because when it's all said and done we can live our lives knowing that regardless of how difficult it was, how much sorrow we endured, all the accomplishments we achieved, and the time it took, we are happy.

I'm going to leave you with a quote from Bob Dylan that I told my friend Christa, he said, "What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do."